Revisiting the doctrine of condonation

The doctrine of condonation is the principle advocating that once a politician is reelected to a second term in office via popular vote, he is deemed forgiven by the people for his administrative offenses. This doctrine is currently being given a second look in line with the suspension of Makati Mayor Junjun Binay due to his alleged involvement in anomalies on the construction of a public parking building. The mayor’s lawyer argues that, since the mayor has been reelected by the people for a second term, he is deemed forgiven for his administrative offenses committed in his previous term. This doctrine also conveniently bars the possibility of preventive suspension to subject the mayor to investigation since, because he is deemed forgiven for his administrative offenses, there is no case that needs to be filed to make him accountable, much less a need to investigate to establish accountability.

The genius behind this doctrine lies in the sovereign right of the people to choose their leaders – a right which the law aims to protect by limiting the court’s power to remove an elected official who was so elected by the will of the majority. Applied to the Makati mayor’s case, the Makati mayor, having been catapulted to power by popular vote, is beyond the reach of the courts for removal. However, this does not include the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, being the highest arbiter of the land, has the judicial power to override all previous doctrines laid down by jurisprudence.

The Supreme Court is currently revisiting the doctrine on the premise that it is being used by the Makati mayor to downplay, if not totally sweep under the rug, questions that may open the floodgates to charges of corruption. Invoking the doctrine of condonation under the circumstances will justify ignoring the overwhelming pieces of evidence against the mayor.

Should the doctrine be revisited or should the Supreme Court stick to the doctrine as it has been laid down by past generations? The spirit of the law should always prevail. The doctrine of condonation was made a part of the law to protect the will of the electorate, and not to protect a politician from being made answerable for abusing his hold on power.


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