• CA absolves suspended Lanao del Norte mayor

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    THE Court of Appeals (CA) has ruled that Mohammad Exchan Gabriel Limbona is the duly elected municipal mayor of Pantar, Lanao del Norte despite his dismissal from the service stemming from a case filed against him.

    In a 36-page decision penned by Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier and concurred in by Associate Justices Celia Librea-Leagogo and Melchor Sadang, the CA’s Ninth Division granted the petition filed by Limbona as it issued “a writ of mandamus directing respondents Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) Executive Director Atty. Salvador del Castillo, BLGF-X Regional Director Gilbert Gumabay, and all persons, entities, agencies and instrumentalities acting on their behalves to recognize [petitioner Limbona.]”

    The CA also directed the respondents “to accept [Limbona’s ] recommendation for the post of ICO-Municipal Treasurer, as indorsed by the Provincial Treasurer, and for respondents to designate the named recommendee to the post.”

    Limbona, then village chief of Lower Kalanganan, together with his wife, was indicted before the Ombudsman for grave misconduct, oppression, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

    In 2009, he was dismissed from the service, with cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification from re-employment in government service.

    Limbona was elected mayor on May 10, 2010 and assumed office the following month. He completed his term and sought reelection in May 2013.

    A disqualification was filed against him before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) but was dismissed pursuant to Aguinaldo doctrine.

    In its February 24, 2016 ruling which was released to the media only recently, the CA held that “the ruling of the Comelec en banc and the resolution of the Supreme Court en banc superseded all issuances of the Office of the Ombudsman pertaining to the dismissal of Mayor Limbona as barangay captain.”

    “It must be stressed that the [Ombudsman] itself appeared to have understood the import of the issuances and gave them due respect by not pursuing any further the execution of the ruling,” the CA said.

    Last week, the SC en banc ruled to abandon the so-called Aguinaldo Doctrine in the case of dismissed Makati City Mayor JunJun Binay.

    The SC en banc has stood behind abandoning the “condonation doctrine,” whereby an elected official’s administrative liability is extinguished once he or she is reelected into office.

    The SC opined that this doctrine, first enunciated in Pascual vs. Provincial Board of Nueva Ecija (1959), is not based on laws, and that there is “no basis for saying that election of an official to a new term fully absolves the official of any administrative liability arising from an offense done during a prior term.”

    With this, Binay and Limbona will be the last heirs of the Aguinaldo doctrine, which is now abandoned by the high court.

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