G.R. No. 246679, June 11, 2021.
The respondents filed their respective motions for reconsideration impugning the 2019 Decision of Supreme Court and argued that
- The Court erred in ruling that Tallado’s removal constitutes as valid interruption of his term sufficient to break the three-term limit rule imposed on local candidates. They point out that the petitioner’s resort to appeal and the eventual modification of the administrative penalty imposed on him shows the lack of permanence of his ouster as governor and should be insufficient to warrant an interruption of his term.
- Respondents urge the Court to consider his absence in office as preventive suspension, as the Ombudsman (OMB) Rules provide.
- They claim that for the Court to allow such construction to continue would reward corrupt and unscrupulous politicians to escape the grasp of the three-term prohibition.
1. Whether the orders of dismissal against the petitioner did not create a permanent, but only a temporary, vacancy
2. Whether the Court’s construction would reward corrupt politicians who will perpetuate their term by escaping the constitutional term limits.
The Court DENIES all motions for reconsideration for lack of merit.
1. NO. When an elective local public officer is administratively dismissed by the 0MB and his penalty subsequently modified to another penalty, like herein petitioner, the period of dismissal cannot just be nonchalantly dismissed as a period for preventive suspension considering that, in fact, his term is effectively interrupted. During said period, petitioner cannot claim to be Governor as his title is stripped of him by the 0MB despite the pendency of his appeal. Neither does he exercise the power of the office. Said title and power are already passed to the Vice Governor. He also cannot claim that the exercise of his power is merely suspended since it is not.
Under Section 44 of the LGC, a permanent vacancy arises whenever an elective local officicl;l fills a higher-vacant office, or refuses to assume office, or fails to qualify, or dies, or is removed from office, or voluntarily resigns, or is otherwise permanently incapacitated to discharge the functions of his office. In contrast, Section 46 of the LGC enumerates as resulting in a temporary vacancy in the office of the local chief executive leave of absence, travel abroad, and suspension from office. Although Section 46 of the LGC specifically states that the causes of a temporary vacancy are not limited to such circumstances, what is evident is that the enumeration therein share something in common, which is that there is a definite term to be re-assumed. However, the petitioner’s dismissals, even if still not final, were not akin to the instances enumerated in Section 46 of the LGC because the loss of his title to the office denied him the expectancy to re-assume his term.
In the 2019 Decision, dismissal orders of the OMB against petitioner served as permanent removal from office and was not merely temporary. From his dismissal until the Court of Appeals’ modification of his penalty to suspension, petitioner neither had title nor powers to wield as governor of Camarines Norte.
2. NO. The Court’s conclusion is but an application of established jurisprudential concepts and was never intended to reward corrupt politicians who escape dismissal. The OMB ‘s dismissal order is immediately executory and, once executed, the public officer ceases to have title for the time being. Hence, it should be considered as an interruption of his term. The fact that the public official is not an ideal one, considering his administrative baggage, does not deprive him of the law’s application.
Imposition of an administrative penalty does not automatically disqualify a public officer from running for public office. Sec. 40 of the Local Government Code does not disqualify a person from running even if he was previously administratively sanctioned.
Lastly, the Court’s construction cannot be construed as a reward for corrupt politicians as it does not guarantee their prolonged grips on power. It must be remembered that they are still subject to competitive and recurring democratic elections wherein the people decide their political fate. It is presumptuous to say that upon the Court’s decision, public officials would automatically claim their stakes in certain government positions for the foreseeable future. With or without the application of the three-term limit rule, their political futures are still uncertain.
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