WILL Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa (Cebu City, south district) be able to seek a second term in Congress or even run for public office again?

The Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas recently wrote the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Manila informing them that they found Abellanosa guilty of grave misconduct over his previous involvement in the City Government’s scholarship program, and ordered him dismissed from public service.

Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Paul Elmer Clemente, in a letter dated Feb. 10, also informed Comelec chairman Andress Bautista that they ordered the cancellation of Abellanosa’s eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service.

Clemente endorsed their October 2014 decision approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales for Comelec’s action and implementation.

Clemente cited two Supreme Court (SC) jurisprudence dated Oct. 9, 2012 (Dominador Jalosjos Jr. vs Comelec) and June 18, 2013 (Romeo Jalosjos vs Comelec).

According to the SC’s website, the first jurisprudence upheld the Comelec’s decision to cancel the certificate of candidacy (COC) of Dominador Jalosjos Jr., who ran for mayor of Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte in May 2010, since he was convicted by final judgment of a criminal case.

In the second jurisprudence, the SC disqualified Romeo Jalosjos from running for mayor of Zamboanga City and canceled his COC after he was convicted by final judgment also for a criminal case.

Clemente also wrote House of Representatives Speaker Fernando “Sonny” Belmonte informing him of the Ombudsman’s decision about Abellanosa.

He asked that the House leadership already implement the decision.

In reaction, Abellanosa said the Ombudsman’s reference to the two jurisprudence was “misplaced” as Jalosjos was convicted already by final judgment.

As for his case, he said the decision of the Ombudsman is not yet final because it is still subject for review by the Court of Appeals.

“The transmittal of the Ombudsman’s ruling to both Congress and Comelec is part of due process. Let us give it due course. I’m sure in due time I will be vindicated,” Abellanosa said.

Abellanosa said that under Section 2, Rule III of the Ombudsman Rules, the anti-graft office does not have disciplinary authority or jurisdiction over members of the Congress, among others.

He said the Ombudsman Act and the Philippine Constitution provides that a member of Congress may only be removed by a two-third votes of its members.

“Hence, disciplinary authority over a member of Congress is not the call of the Ombudsman but of Congress itself. This is by virtue of the separation of powers doctrine enshrined in the Constitution,” he said.

A copy of Clemente’s letter to the Comelec and Congress was given to the media yesterday by Councilor Gerardo Carillo, who is challenging Abellanosa’s reelection.

Abellanosa is a member of the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan.

Carillo said he got a copy of the letter from Philip Banguiran, the taxpayer who filed the administrative and criminal case against Abellanosa at the Ombudsman in December 2012.

Banguiran had raised the issue on conflict of interest over Abellanosa’s involvement in the City’s scholarship program.

Abellanosa is the former president of the Asian College of Technology, which is one of the participating schools in the City’s scholarship program.

Carillo, who is running with Team Rama, said it will be to his advantage if Abellanosa is disqualified from the race.

He also wants Comelec to implement the Ombudsman’s decision. He said, though, that Abellanosa can still avail himself of legal remedies to stop it.

For his part, Cebu City south district Election Officer Edwin Cadungog said that a COC of a candidate can only be canceled if there is a formal case filed before the Comelec in Manila.