Negros Oriental Governor Degamo again secures TRO vs dismissal order

MANILA, Philippines – He keeps getting dismissal orders, but he also keeps blocking them by securing a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Court of Appeals (CA).

Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo has again secured a TRO against a dismissal order, the 3rd time for him.

Citing the condonation doctrine, the CA's Special 19th Division issued a TRO rejecting Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales' dismissal order against Degamo over the alleged anomalous release of P10 million worth of intelligence funds.

The Ombudsman released the order in early December 2017, and before the year ended, the order was served on Degamo and Doc Mark Macias was sworn in as new governor.

Degamo is serving a 90-day suspension order, which will end on Tuesday, January 16.

"I will be assuming my office on January 17....Para sa 'kin wala namang problema basta hindi siya (Macias) magmamatigas (There would be no problem as long as Macias won't be stubborn)," Degamo told Rappler in a phone interview on Monday, January 15.

Macias previously said he would step down should a TRO be issued in favor of Degamo, reported The Philippine Star.

Condonation doctrine 

The CA sided with Degamo's argument that the condonation or Aguinaldo doctrine applies to him. In the doctrine, an official's reelection absolves him of administrative liabilities committed during a previous term.

The Supreme Court (SC) struck down the doctrine in 2014.

"While the Court is aware of the Supreme Court's abandonment of the Aguinaldo doctrine, we are equally aware that the abandonment was prospective in application," said the CA in a decision penned by Associate Justice Louis Acosta, with concurrences from Associate Justices Marilyn Lagura-Yap and Edward Contreras.

The alleged offense happened in 2013. Degamo was accused of violating local government and auditing codes for ordering the release of P10 million worth of intelligence funds without an appropriation.

The CA added: "It is clear that the Aguinaldo doctrine is still applicable to Degamo's case and that his reelection to office in the May 2013 elections has ostensibly cleansed him from whatever administrative liability he may have incurred prior to his reelection."

Degamo stressed that in 2016, the Commission on Audit (COA) gave him a certification clearing him for the 2013 intelligence funds.

"The only agency that can tell me na hindi maayos ang pag-spend ko ay ang COA. Ang tatlo lang na nakakaalam sa intelligence fund ay ang governor, ang COA, at ang Panginoon. Hindi puwedeng makisawsaw ang Ombudsman," Degamo said.

(The only agency which can tell me that my spending is not right is COA. The only 3 who have the knowledge of intelligence funds are the governor, COA, and the Lord. The Ombudsman should not meddle.)

Degamo added that the Ombudsman's 3 dismissal orders against him have "hurt my province, our economy."

In February 2017, Degamo secured a TRO against the Ombudsman's dismissal order which stemmed from a different case involving the alleged anomalous use of Negros Oriental's calamity funds in 2012. In June 2016, Degamo also secured a TRO from the CA.

The condonation doctrine is also Degamo's basis for suing Ombudsman officials before the Department of Justice and seeking their removal with the help of the Office of the President. – 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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