Congress to abolish twisted doctrine if SC won’t
MANILA, Philippines–If the Supreme Court does not have the guts to rectify a twisted dogma, Congress is willing to step in and abolish this doctrine of condonation by re-election.
Deputy Speaker and Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao said he would file a bill that would effectively “neuter” this doctrine that Makati Mayor Junjun Binay is using to foil the suspension order imposed on him by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales.
“If the SC cannot find the wherewithal to overturn this ‘wrong doctrine,’ I would propose Congress step in to neuter it. A simple, straightforward piece of legislation would do the trick,” said Aggabao in a text message.
During the second day of oral arguments on the case in Baguio City last Tuesday, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno lectured Binay lawyer Sandra Marie Olaso-Coronel on using a patently wrong doctrine just to save her client without considering the damage it would wreak on on the constitutional framework and the quality of governance for future generations of Filipinos.
The doctrine that the Binay camp used in its defense is based on 1959 case involving the mayor of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, in which the high court, following American jurisprudence, ruled that the mayor was to be effectively absolved from administrative charges by virtue of reelection.
Binay has been accused of plunder for the construction of the allegedly overpriced Makati parking building which was started by his father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, and completed during his first term as mayor from 2010 to 2013.
Aggabao, a topnotcher in the 1980 bar exams, said the chief justice was correct.
“The doctrine is a bad, decisional law. It is anchored on a fundamental flaw: that the electorate had full knowledge of wrongs committed by its elected officials. But who does? The condonation is so fictional because it is established by implication from the mere re-election of an errant official,” he said.
“It is about time this doctrine is turned on its head,” Aggabao said.
Meanwhile, Binay’s lawyer, Sandra Marie Olaso-Coronel who was berated over the issue by her former professor, Sereno, is buckling down to work, preparing to issue a rebuttal on paper.
Coronel is prepared to stand her ground to defend the validity of the condonation doctrine.
“This condonation doctrine has been longstanding [for] 55 years and reiterated repeatedly in various cases, last of which was in 2009,” she said.
“This means it has withstood judicial scrutiny through three Constitutions, including the 1987 [Constitution]. It is based on the constitutional mandate of the sovereignty of the people, the electorate. This is most basic in a democracy,” she said.
Coronel, who is herself a law professor at the UP Law College, disputed the Inquirer’s report that she could barely respond to Sereno during last Tuesday’s oral arguments, claiming to have succeed in “standing our ground that the doctrine remains good law.”
But Coronel conceded that the Binay camp was only asserting condonation as applying only in the administrative aspect of the case.
“This means [that] while the re-elected official cannot be removed from office, he can still remain charged in the criminal case,” she said.
In the end, Coronel said it would be up to the high court to decide on whether or not to uphold the condonation doctrine.
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