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Local legislative bodies can conduct administrative investigation only up to Feb. 12

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
February 1, 2007

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte  –  The local legislative bodies, starting February 13 up to May 14, 2007,  can no longer conduct administrative investigations nor impose preventive suspension orders on local elective officials.

The Department of Interior and Local Government made the reminder even as it made clear that such restrictions do not cover cases under probe by the Office of the Ombudsman.

In answer to the many inquiries regarding the issue, Secretary Puno of the Department of Interior and Local Government issued a memorandum on January 23, on the guidelines on probe and suspension of local officials during election period. Puno issued the memorandum, which he has instructed DILG regional directors to disseminate nationwide.

Secretary Puno pointed out that under Batasang Pambansa 881 or the Omnibus Election Code, administrative investigations may still be conducted by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sangguniang Panlungsod or the Sangguniang Bayan against local elective officials within their respective disciplinary authority, from Jan. 14, which is the start of the election period, up to Feb. 12. However, starting Jan. 14, these disciplinary bodies “cannot, pursuant to Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code, anymore impose preventive suspension or suspension as penalty unless prior approval of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is secured.”

Starting Feb. 13, 2007 (90 days prior to election day) the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the Sangguniang Panlungsod, or the Sangguniang Bayan can no longer conduct administrative investigation and no more preventive suspension shall thereafter be imposed.

If a preventive suspension order has already been imposed, this is deemed automatically lifted on Feb, 13, 2007 as provided under Section 62 (c) of the Local Government Code. However, this automatic lifting of preventive suspension does not apply to the preventive suspension of the Ombudsman considering that respondents are being proceeded administratively under the Ombudsman Act and not under the Local Government Code,” Puno stressed in his memorandum. “Parenthetically, the Ombudsman Act (RA 6770) does not provide for the automatic lifting of preventive suspension, whether during the election period or the 90-day period prior to a local election.

The same Memorandum states that starting May 15, 2007, or a day after the elections, administrative investigations may be resumed by the incumbent Sanggunian boards “until the end of their terms of office on June 30, 2007, unless the local elective official under probe will be proclaimed as winner earlier than June 30, 2007.

If a local chief executive under investigation is declared the winner in the elections prior to June 30, 2007, “he shall be accordingly exonerated from such administrative case against him pursuant to the Supreme Court decisions in Pascual vs. Provincial Board of Nueva Ecija and Aguinaldo vs. Santos,” which enunciated the doctrine that reelection means a condonation by the electorate of one’s administrative liability, the Memorandum pointed out.