‘Condonation doctrine’ saves Baguilat from dismissal over no-bid purchase of P900K car

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The Court of Appeals (CA) has spared Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, Jr., from dismissal from public office in connection with the purchase of a P900,000 vehicle without public bidding when he was a governor in 2003.

In a recent 3-page resolution, the CA Special Former Special 15th Division sustained its June 22 decision to reverse the Ombudsman’s March 2, 2017 ruling dismissing Baguilat for grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty.

The CA reiterated that the controversial “condonation doctrine”—which absolves a reelected public official for administrative offenses committed during a previous term—was still applicable in Baguilat’s case.

The Supreme Court (SC) abandoned the said doctrine on November 10, 2015, but this would be done prospectively. In Baguilat’s case, the CA said the doctrine should still apply because he allegedly committed his offenses in 2003, more than a decade before the SC’s decision.

In its appeal, the Ombudsman argued that its “clear and unequivocal determination of [Baguilat’s] guilt” should be deemed an exception to the SC’s prospective abandonment of the doctrine.

However, the CA brushed aside the appeal for raising arguments that were “mere rehash and reiterations of its allegations.”

“[The] Office of the Ombudsman failed to show patent or palpable error to warrant reconsideration of Our decision. As such, We find no valid reason to revise, much less to reverse or set aside what have been carefully set bright,” read the resolution penned by Associate Justice Marlene Gonzales-Sison.

Baguilat purchased an Isuzu Trooper wagon on March 24, 2003, from JMS General Merchandise— a gas station business—three months before the budget was actually approved.

The province’s bids and awards committee (BAC) resorted to personal canvass, instead of holding a public bidding. The purchase request was also irregular because it specified the plate number, chassis number, motor engine number and other details of the specific vehicle bought by Baguilat.

Aside from escaping administrative liability, Baguilat’s criminal charges for graft were dismissed by the Sandiganbayan in April on the grounds of unreasonable delays in the Ombudsman’s investigation. #

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