Review policy absolving reelectionists, SC urged
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has called on her former colleagues in the Supreme Court to review the so-called “Aguinaldo doctrine,” which clears elected public officials of administrative charges once they are reelected.
In an interview with reporters on Friday, Morales said the 56-year-old ruling has affected the antigraft body’s efforts to exact accountability and run after erring elected officials facing investigation for graft and corruption.
Makati Mayor Junjun Binay cited the Aguinaldo doctrine in securing a temporary injunction from the Court of Appeals (CA) to stop the six-month preventive suspension handed down against him by the Ombudsman in connection with alleged anomalies in the construction of Makati City Hall Building II.
The tough-talking Morales, a retired Supreme Court justice, said she raised the issue when she faced the magistrates in Baguio City on Tuesday during oral arguments on the petition of the Office of the Ombudsman questioning the decision of the appellate court stopping Binay’s suspension.
“It (Aguinaldo doctrine) hampers our investigation process of the administrative aspect because one of the purposes of issuing a preventive suspension order is to temporarily remove the public officer from his office to enable the Ombudsman to access and to preserve records,” Morales said.
“We are pleading for the revisiting of that doctrine which was adopted by the courts in 1959. So given the fact that… the 1987 Constitution is very emphatic on the drive against corruption, it calls for honesty among public officials, it calls for public accountability, then that policy should motivate the revisiting of the condonation doctrine,” she said.
The Ombudsman said there was no existing law that allowed public officials occupying elective posts to be absolved of administrative liabilities if they were again voted to office.
“It was just based on a policy so it is really the Supreme Court that can reverse or modify it,” Morales said.
She stressed the need to issue a temporary suspension against public officers “because chances are, if we access [public] documents, the administrative officer is able to controvert the evidence.”
“If you have nothing to hide, you are not supposed to arrest the powers of the Ombudsman to secure evidence in support of its complaint,” the Ombudsman said.
“This is only a preventive measure. This is not a penalty,” she said.
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