SC bars Northern Samar mayor from office, says condonation doctrine applies only when invoked
The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered the perpetual disqualification of Gamay, Northern Samar, Mayor Timoteo Capoquian from public office as it found him guilty of the administrative offense of nepotism.
In its recent 9-page decision, the SC 1st Division ruled that the Ombudsman erred in absolving Capoquian on the ground of the condonation doctrine, clarifying that a respondent public official should specifically invoke that defense for it to be applicable.
Likewise, the SC clarified that while an Ombudsman decision absolving a public official in an administrative case is “final and unappealable,” it may still be challenged in a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals (CA).
Thus, the SC reversed the CA’s January 16, 2017 decision dismissing the petition of Domingo Crebello that questioned the Ombudsman’s March 31, 2016 ruling in favor of Capoquian.
In effect, Capoquian would be meted out the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from public office, cancellation of eligibility, and bar from taking civil service examinations.
Crebello was the complainant who initiated the case before the Ombudsman in connection with Capoquian’s appointment Raquel to the board of directors of the Gamay Water District on March 5, 2008.
The SC agreed with the Ombudsman that the condonation doctrine was not yet deemed abandoned until April 12, 2016, when its decision in the case of Carpio Morales v. CA became final.
The condonation doctrine absolves an official of administrative liability arising from offenses committed in a previous term if he is reelected and deemed forgiven by the electorate.
Yet, records showed that Capoquian never invoked the condonation doctrine as a defense. Thus, the Ombudsman “acted whimsically” in applying the doctrine in his favor, especially since it found the allegation to be fully established.
“Condonation, being a matter of defense, must be specifically invoked by the respondent elective public official,” read the decision penned by Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin.
The SC also ruled the CA erred in relying on Fabian v. Desierto, which required that appeals of Ombudsman decisions be taken by way of a petition for review under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court.
Ombudsman decisions absolving the respondent are final, executors and unappealable under Section 7, Rule III of Administrative Order Number 07. Thus, Crebello correctly filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.