CA clears Degamo; SC appeal looms

The Court of Appeals special 18th Division based in Cebu has reversed the dismissal order upon Gov Roel Degamo by the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB), and virtually mooted the late decision of the Supreme Court dissolving the TRO Temporary Restraining Order and the Writ of Preliminary Injunction WRT,  which decision of the OMB would have been executory.

What is significant are the dates:

The Ombudsman issued the dismissal of Degamo on March 2, 2017.   The Court of Appeals issued a TRO/WRT on Jan 11, 2018. The Supreme Court-dissolved the TRO/WRT on  Nov 13, 2019. Yet,  the Court of Appeals already resolved the case and cleared Degamo as early as  Sept. 16, 2019.  Many are surprised.  People want an explanation.

CA RULING:

The significant highlights of Degamo’s reversal of the OMB decision from grave misconduct which merited dismissal from service,— down to simple misconduct, but which was further exonerated by virtue of condonation or his reelection into office.

The case may be appealed on Motion for Reconsideration and further an appeal to the Supreme Court for finality via a collegial decision.

The CA ruled:

From gave misconduct  by Ombudsman to simple misconduct, was ruled  because  Degamo did not have any clear  criminal  intent of corruption by  using P10Million from his intelligence fund for public purpose,  even if it was not appropriated in the provincial budget; that there is no evidence presented  that the governor gained  untoward benefit  for himself or other persons;

That COA  settled his liquidation report by virtue of its Notice of Settlement of Suspension/Disallowance /Charge notwithstanding Degamo’s return of P10-Million to the provincial coffers. ( Netizens ask: Why return the money if no mistake was committed?)

CA  also believed in the legal opinion of the provincial attorney  that the provincial board did not have the power (ultra vires)  to remove the intelligence fund from the Executive Budget presented and already approved by the Annual Appropriation Program AIP  because by doing so, it prejudiced public safety since the  Confidential  Intelligence Fund CIF is an indispensable component in the LGUS’s need to maintain peace and order;

The CA affirmed Degamo’s administrative liability but pruned it down to simple misconduct.  Moreover, this liability was exonerated because Degmao was still covered by the principle of condonation by virtue of his reelection in 2013.

Citing jurisprudence, the Degamo condonation is not yet covered by its abolition in the Carpio Morales case vs Binay which was on April 12, 2016, and the DEgamo case was promulgated on Nov. 11, 2014.

Moreover, on reelection, Degamo was elected board member 3rd district in 2010, yet he took over the governorship being  No.1 board member in 2011 when Gov Perdices died; and Degamo was elected first time as governor in 2013, reelected in 2016 and 2019. His three terms will end in 2022.

Moreover, since Degamo’s dismissal was reversed, then DEgamo’s term was not effectively interrupted with finality, thus his plan to re-run in 2022 could yet be subject to legal debate, many legal minds opine.

Jurisprudence cited by the CA  says even if one is not reelected to the same position, so long as he is elected by the same body politics of voters, he is deemed reelected by the same voters, and thus, condoned of his past mistakes as this is an implied acceptance by the same voters of his offer to serve once more. This principle was abolished on April 12, 2016. No longer applicable after such date.

Ponente was Associate Justice Marilyn Lagura-Yap, and concurred by Associate Justices Emily Alino-Geluz and Dorothy Montejo-Gonzaga.