SC affirms CA in Cebu Gov. Garcia’s admin case

Published November 28, 2021, 3:07 PM

by Rey Panaligan 

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the Court of Appeals’ (CA) 2014 decision that faulted the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) for still declaring Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn F. Garcia guilty of grave misconduct in 2013 in the 2011 administrative charges despite her 2010 re-election which absolved her of liability under the then condonation doctrine.

The 1959 condonation doctrine, which extinguished the administrative liability of an elective official who had been re-elected to the same post, had been abandoned by the SC in its Nov. 10, 2015 decision that became final on April 12, 2016.

At the time Garcia’s administrative cases were filed in 2011, the doctrine was still in effect.

While the OMB did not impose a penalty on Garcia, it declared her guilty of grave misconduct in the administrative cases involving the purchase by the Cebu provincial government of a land in 2007 for the construction of a new airport.

Garcia challenged the OMB’s ruling before the CA which ruled in her favor. The OMB elevated the case to the SC.

“Verily, it is incorrect for the 0MB to argue that the condonation doctrine merely erases the penalty and not the offense. To repeat, the condonation doctrine obliterates the offense and, consequently, the liability as well,” the SC ruled in a resolution in GR No. 215221 which was promulgated last Sept. 14 and made public last Nov. 24.

But the SC clarified, as it cited its previous ruling, that “the defense of condonation doctrine is no longer available if the public official’s reelection happened on or after April 12, 2016.”

“With the abandonment of the condonation doctrine which became final on April 12, 2016, any reelection of public officials on said date and onwards no longer have the effect of condoning their previous misconduct.

“Here, the three complaints for grave misconduct were filed against respondent (Garcia) and other individuals prior to her reelection as Governor of the Province of Cebu in 2010.

“Since the events that transpired here occurred prior to the finality of (of the decision on condonation) on April 12, 2016, respondent can still avail of the benefits of the condonation doctrine as a consequence of her reelection in 2010.

“In fine, respondent’s administrative liability –both the offense and penalty — are deemed completely erased.

“WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision dated April 23, 2014 and Resolution dated October 10, 2014 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 07553 are AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED.”