Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia (contributed)

The Supreme Court (SC) affirmed a Court of Appeal’s (CA) decision clearing Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia from administrative cases filed against her involvement in the purchase of the Balili property in Naga City, Cebu.

The Office of the Ombudsman found Garcia guilty of administrative charges in 2011 after her reelection as governor in the 2010 presidential election.

The Ombudsman appealed the appellate court’s decision, which also cleared 10 other Cebu capitol officials.  

In its decision made public on Nov. 24, the SC ruled that though they have abandoned the condonation doctrine in 2016, the offense was done when the administrative cases were filed against Garcia in 2011.

Under the doctrine, Garcia’s camp argues that the administrative liability of an elective official who had been re-elected to the same post is automatically extinguished.

“Verily, it is incorrect for the OMB to argue that the condonation doctrine merely erases the penalty and not the offense. To repeat, the condonation doctrine obliterates the offense and, consequently, the liability as well,” the SC ruled.

The high court clarified that “the defense of condonation doctrine is no longer available if the public official’s reelection happened on or after April 12, 2016.”

 “And yet again, justice has prevailed as always the truth will set us free,” Garcia said in a statement. Ryan Sorote