Editorial: The Aguinaldo doctrine, for voters-A A +A
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
ELECTIVE officials who face administrative cases get a wipe-your-slate clean card because of the Aguinaldo doctrine.
It is because of this doctrine that suspended Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia cannot be removed from office, despite being found administratively guilty of grave misconduct over the Balili land purchase in 2008. Former Provincial Board member Juan Bolo, while also found guilty, can no longer be dismissed as he is no longer an elective official.
But four Capitol executives who were found guilty along with the governor were ordered dismissed from the service: Anthony Sususco, Roy Salubre, Eulogio Pelayre, all of the Provincial Appraisal Committee, and Provincial Budget Officer Emme Gingoyon.
The latter three have served the Capitol for 18 to 27 years. Sususco, who retired in March last year, served the Province for 40 years.
It does seem unfair that subordinates can lose their jobs for an illegal transaction, but the top officials who were similarly involved get to keep theirs.
But the Supreme Court (SC) has repeatedly pointed out that reelected officials cannot be punished for alleged offenses in a previous term, because their reelection means the voters have condoned those offenses. This condonation does not extend to coterminous officials who have not had to win an election.
Neither does it cover criminal charges.
The Aguinaldo in this legal doctrine was Rodolfo E. Aguinaldo, whom the voters of Cagayan elected as their governor on Jan. 17, 1988. Less than two years into his term, he was charged with disloyalty to the republic and culpable violation of the Constitution for supporting the failed coup attempt in December 1989.
At least two other figures associated with that failed coup still enjoy thriving political careers to this day, but that’s for another editorial. In Aguinaldo’s case, Local Government Secretary Luis Santos ordered his dismissal on March 19, 1990.
But the SC, in a ruling on Aug. 21, 1992, reversed the dismissal order because Aguinaldo’s reelection on May 11, 1992 “operates as a condonation of the officer’s previous misconduct, to the extent of cutting of the right to remove him.”
What the Aguinaldo doctrine mean for us voters? It is a stark reminder that we need to examine each candidate’s track record, including any cases he or she faces. Are these offenses we are willing to forgive?
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 06, 2013.