Court of Appeals upholds decision clearing Junjun Binay of administrative charges

MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld its decision clearing former Makati City mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr of administrative charges stemming from an alleged overpriced Makati parking building.

The CA’s former 10th Division maintained its ruling that Binay was still covered by the condonation doctrine when the Office of the Ombudsman ordered his dismissal from the service in 2015 over administrative charges in connection with alleged irregularities in the construction of the P2.29-billion Makati City Hall Parking Building.

“It cannot be negated that the abandonment of the condonation doctrine – declared prospective in application by no less than the Supreme Court – should not be given any retroactive effect as to prejudice Binay, Jr. for the acts he allegedly committed when said doctrine was still in effect and duly recognized,” the court said in its resolution signed on March 18 by Associate Justices Edwin Sorongon, Sesinando Villon, and Maria Filomena Singh.

The CA denied the Office of the Ombudsman’s motion for reconsideration of its May 3, 2018, decision that cleared Binay of administrative charges.

Binay and older sister Abby are both running for Makati mayor – a local race drama featuring a prominent political family in the country.

Binay’s criminal charges before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan will remain.

In September 2015,  then-ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the dismissal of Binay after finding him guilty of the administrative charges of serious dishonesty and grave misconduct over irregularities in the construction of the Makati City Hall Parking Building.

What did the CA say? The first time that CA sided with Binay, the appellate court said the mayoral candidate was covered by the condonation doctrine.

Under the condonation doctrine, a reelected official should no longer be made accountable for an administrative offense committed during his previous term.

The irregularities in the Makati building project were found during Binay's 2010 to 2013 term as mayor. In 2013, he was reelected and considered forgiven under the doctrine.

On November 10, 2015, the Supreme Court (SC) struck down the condonation doctrine.

In its earlier decision, the CA said the SC’s decision was prospective, meaning it can only be applied to cases after November 10, 2015, and not to cases prior to that, like Binay’s.

When the SC struck down the condonation doctrine in November 2015, it was resolving an Ombudsman petition to reverse the CA’s ruling that stopped Binay’s 6-month preventive suspension at the time.

The Ombudsman appealed the CA to reconsider its decision, arguing that the High Court could have already categorically stated in its decision that Binay was no longer covered by the doctrine.

“The Ombudsman’s motion fails to persuade us,” said the CA’s former 10th Division.

It added, “It also bears stressing that the Supreme Court maintained such prospective application of the abandonment of the condonation doctrine and consistently reiterated such ruling in its subsequent decisions.” – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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