Nov. 11-17, 2010
Citing the Aguinaldo Doctrine
By Cha Monforte
The second administrative case of newly elected barangay captain of San Isidro, Tagum City who was earlier found guilty by the previous Tagum City Council in its two separate quasi-judicial decisions and even dismissed from service by the Ombudsman for Mindanao stemming from the first administrative case was dismissed Wednesday by the Davao del Norte Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
Invoking the “Aguinaldo Doctrine” the provincial board, acting as a quasi-judicial body, dismissed the administrative case number 09-004 against reelected San Isidro barangay chairman Rodito Pielago as filed and ruled by the previous City Council, the body complainant against the respondent’s alleged falsification, dishonesty and gross misconduct relating to the issue on barangay calamity fund which was alleged to have been lost while Pielago was holding office.
In the provincial board’s rare Wednesday session, after hearing legal opinions from three invited resource persons, Floorleader Boardmember Daniel Lu made a motion in behalf of present council members to dismiss the second administrative case that Pielago had appealed to the body last June.
Pielago was first suspended without pay by the previous City Council for three months, on April 20, 2009 to July 20, 2009, stemming from the administrative case relating to his act of dismissing purok leaders and giving their cash gifts as barangay peacekeepers to his appointees.
When the SP ruled Wednesday on the appealed administrative case relating the calamity funds, Pielago, who won in the last barangay polls, was yet serving the previous City Council-sanctioned new 6-month suspension order, still without pay, covering the period from June 10, 2010 to December 10, 2010.
Two months ago, the Ombudsman for Mindanao ruled to dismiss Pielago from service stemming from the first administrative case which was also lodged to the Ombudsman in 2009 besides being also lodged to the previous City Council. The Ombudsman for Mindanao’s order was however not not enforced by DILG provincial director Gregorio Versoza as there was no recipient of it since Pielago was not holding office and is still suspended stemming from the second administrative case.
Winners of the recent barangay polls are still to assume office by the coming December 1.
Reached for comment, Pielago told the Valley & City Chronicle that his lawyer said that the Ombudsman’s decision was already deemed foregone, and that he is no longer barred and is ready to assume office for his fresh mandate by December 1.
But he said he is “not happy” with the SP’s recent decision citing that he is the appealant of the case that has been gathering dust in the SP after he appealed it last June and within the 15-day appeal period as provided by the rules on quasi-judicial provisions of the local government code even while he said he has been personally suffering and financially bleeding from the suspensions and from the sliced “19 cases” filed in various courts and fora stemming from what he called as the same politically-motivated, trumped-up and false charges made by his political enemies in his barangays.
He said that all his motions for temporary restraining orders and motions for reconsiderations had all been denied of him throughout his legal battle in the various cases trumped on him.
“When I appealed to the SP, I have great respect and trust to the SP to give me justice,” said Pielago, who did not appear in last Wednesday’s quasi-judicial session even if he was invited. “I ought not be congratulated”.
“I have only my conviction and principle as well as the support of my family that sustain me not to waver nor migrate to other places out of surrender,” the vindicated barangay captain said.
CITING THE AGUINALDO DOCTRINE
Wednesday’s resource persons were Dept. of Interior and Local Government provincial director Gregorio Versoza, provincial prosecutor Ruben Pasamonte and provincial legal officer Jennifer Namoc.
Versosa first asked that Boardmembers Atty. Raymond Joey Millan and Vicente “Enting” Eliot, city councilors before their current first term, would have first to inhibit from participating in the quasi-judicial proceeding of the body as they were then members of the previous City Council which made the city-level suspension orders to Pielago in 2009 and June 2010. The two inhibited without protestation.
Versosa then informed the body of a court ruling on the administrative case of late Cagayan Governor Rodolfo Aguinaldo, whose administrative case was ultimately dismissed by the Supreme Court as “his act during his previous term was deemed condoned when he was reelected for a new mandate”.
He qouted the dispositive portion of the Aguinaldo ruling which he said would cover only to administrative offenses of elected public officials and not criminal offenses.
“(Pielago’s) administrative offense shall have been extinguished when he is reelected,” he said citing the Aguinaldo Doctrine.
On the other hand, prosecutor Pasamonte said that the Aguinaldo ruling is the “controlling doctrine” while there were also other rulings that supported it such as the Pascual vs. provincial board members of Nueva Ecija in 1959. He echoed that the administrative offense in the previous term of the barangay official “cannot remain in his new term”.
Atty. Namoc concurred and said that the Aguinaldo ruling “can not hold true to civil or criminal case”.
She cited that the Salalima vs. Guingona case where the doctrine of forgiveness or condonation does not apply to criminal or civil liabilities which the reelected official may be held liable for concerning an act committed during his previous term.
Boardmember Antonio Lagunzad said that the case of Pielago becomes “moot and academic” and “he is now out of the hook” although he said anybody despite the case dismissal can still “file criminal case against Pielago or a disqualification case in the Comelec.”
Absent on Wednesday’s quasi-judicial session were Phiilippine Councilors’ League representative Janrey Gavina, Boardmember Dr. Alfredo De Veyra and holdover Sanggunian Kabataan representative Dennis Cafe.
Also present were Boardmembers Hernanie Duco, Ely Dacalus, Alan Dujali, Janet Gavina and holdover FABC representative Demetrio Maligro.
The voting was unanimous with simple majority of 7 members voting in affirmative in the 13-member provincial board.
Senior Boardmember Shirley Belen Aala was the presiding officer being the acting vice governor in view of the travel of Governor Rodolfo del Rosario in the United States.
Acting Governor Victorio Suaybaguio Jr was in the session hall observing the proceeding.
During the last polls despite “massive vote buying and distribution of rice”, the San Isidro villagers supported Pielago leading to his victory, with a margin of only almost 200 votes. All of the reelectionist incumbent barangay kagawads, presumably mostly his political detrators except one lost.
Peilago’s condonation and vindication shone more with the San Isidro barangay people’s mandate given to his wife Esperanza, who placed Top 2 in the race for barangay kagawads in the recent polls. (Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)