Aguinaldo doctrine doesn’t often work

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Thursday, May 22, 2014


QUINALDO doctrine lays down the legal fiction that when voters reelect a public official accused of wrongdoing, administrative guilt is condoned.

Anti-graft prosecutors blame the theory for enabling many an erring elective official to escape sanction.

The theory suffers from basic flaws: What if the electors didn't understand the issue against the official or their will was subverted? Or, another set of voters decided because the respondent official ran for another public office elsewhere?

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The recent motion of the ombudsman for the Court of Appeals to reconsider its ruling acquitting two Cebu Capitol officials raises anew the doctrine's defects.

The ombudsman argues that the voters didn't know about the illegality of the act the officials were charged with as the finding of its illegality did not yet exist at the time. They couldn't have been forgiven for a deed the voters didn't know was illegal.

Aguinaldo also rests on wobbly legs in these situations:

l When a mayor runs for board member two years after the administrative ruling against him became final, how can he still benefit from the doctrine?

l When a governor runs for congressman, how can his election condone his sin when the voters who "forgive" is only a fraction of the offended electorate?

Refuge

It seems that any respondent who wins another election -- whatever, wherever or whenever the new post -- is cleansed under the doctrine.

Aquinaldo has become an all-embracing refuge for wayward public officials. That's why many anti-graft prosecutors publicly wish the doctrine dead.

(paseares@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 23, 2014.

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