SC ruling bittersweet for Junjun Binay

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 11 2015 08:23 PM | Updated as of Nov 12 2015 12:19 AM

MANILA - The Supreme Court (SC) has voted on the petition of the Office of the Ombudsman against the Court of Appeals (CA) and dismissed Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay.

The decision covered the appellate court's issuance of a temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction that stopped Binay's first preventive suspension over the allegedly anomalous Makati City Hall Building 2.

The high court said the appellate court did not commit grave abuse of discretion in issuing the restraining and injunctive orders because it merely used as basis what is commonly known as the "Aguinaldo condonation doctrine," which expunges an elected official's administrative liability once he or she gets reelected into office.

"Thus, by merely following settled precedents on the condonation doctrine, which at that time, unwittingly remained 'good law,' it cannot be concluded that the CA committed grave abuse of discretion based on its legal attribution," said lawyer Theodore Te, Public Information Office chief of the Supreme Court.

However, Binay will no longer benefit from this decision over the Ombudsman's preventive suspension order because he was already ordered dismissed by the anti-graft office on the merits of the case.

READ: Ombudsman orders dismissal of Junjun Binay

WATCH: SC abandons condonation doctrine, nullifies part of Ombudsman law

Binay may no longer invoke the SC ruling in his petition before the CA against the suspension order, and neither can he use it to be reinstated in City Hall.

"For the present administrative charges against him, the said CA petition ought to be dismissed on the ground of mootness. The preventive suspension order is only an ancillary issuance," Te said. "It therefore has no more purpose and perforce dissolved upon the termination of the office's process of investigation."

The SC ruling said: "To begin with, the concept of public office is a public trust and the corollary requirement of accountability to the people at all times, as mandated under the 1987 Constitution, is plainly inconsistent with the idea that an elective official's administrative liability for a misconduct committed during a prior term can be wiped off by the fact that he was elected to a second term of office, or even another elective post.

"Election is not a mode of condoning an administrative offense, and there is simply no constitutional or statutory basis arising from an offense done during a prior term."

The high court also junked the condonation doctrine, which will take effect prospectively.

The SC stressed that it has no basis in the Constitution and other laws.

It is clear in the constitution that public office is a public trust, and therefore, elected officials must be made accountable for any misconduct in the performance of their duties.

Reelection may not be used as a shield against this accountability, according to the high court.

"[T]he Court noted that it encroached on the Supreme Court's constitutional rule-making authority, specifically in defining the scope of injunctions and restraint orders.... the Congress had eliminated a provisional remedy included in the Court's rules and which violated the separation of powers, prescribed in the Constitution," it added.

Also declared unconstitutional is the provision in the Ombudsman Act which states that only the Supreme Court, not the lower courts, may stop an Ombudsman investigation.

The magistrates ruled that this is an encroachment on the Supreme Court's constitutional rule-making authority, and on the separation of powers among the three co-equal branches of government.