“Condonation doctrine” is a very popular defense used by elective officials in administrative cases filed against them before the Office of the Ombudsman.
The “condonation doctrine”, which was first adopted by the Supreme Court in the 1959 case of Arturo Pascual vs. Hon. Provincial Board of Nueva Ecija (106 Phil 466), states that. “(o)ffenses committed, or acts done, during previous term are generally held not to furnish cause for removal and this is especially true where the constitution provides that the penalty in proceedings for removal shall not extend beyond the removal from office, and disqualification from holding office for the term for which the officer was elected or appointed.” “The underlying theory is that each term is separate from other terms.” The “reelection to office operates as a condonation of the officer’s previous misconduct to the extent of cutting off the right to remove him therefore”. “When the people have elected a man to office, it must be assumed that they did this with knowledge of his life and character, and that they disregarded or forgave his faults or misconduct, if he had been guilty of any. It is not for the court, by reason of such faults or misconduct to practically overrule the will of the people.”
The Supreme Court, in the case of Conchita Carpio-Morales, in her capacity as Ombudsman vs. Court of Appeals and Jejomar Erwin S. Binay, Jr. (G.R. No. 217126-27, 10 November 2015), abandoned the foregoing jurisprudential creation because it “simply finds no legal authority to sustain the condonation doctrine in this jurisdiction”. It ruled that, “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 local 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 in our jurisdiction to support the notion that an official elected for a different term is fully absolved of any administrative liability arising from an offense done during a prior term.” As such, the Collegiate Body ruled that, “it cannot be said that the electorate’s will had been abdicated.” Finally, the Supreme Court held that no presumption exists in any statute or procedural rule that the electorate, when reelecting a local official, are assumed to have done so with knowledge of his life and character, and that they disregarded or forgave his faults or misconduct, if he had any.