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SOLLANO, Jose Gabriel Local Government

2009-13913

What Branch of Government Possess the Power to Remove Elective Local Officials?

Under Section 60 of the Local Government Code of 1991, an elective local official may be
removed from office on the grounds enumerated [in Sec. 60] by order of the proper court. The law
is clear. Only by an order of a proper court can an elective local official be removed from his office.
In The Sangguniang Barangay of of Barangay Don Mariano Marcos v. Martinez, the Supreme Court
pronounced that Congress clearly meant that the removal of an elective local official be done only
after a trial before the appropriate court, where court rules of procedure and evidence can ensure
impartiality and fairness and protect against political maneuverings.

In footnote number 3 of Salalima v. Guingona, the Supreme Court observed that Article 125,
Rule XIX of the Rules and Regulations Implementing the Local Government Code of 1991 grants the
disciplining power to remove an elective local official. The Court decreed that this was clearly
beyond the authority of the Oversight Committee that prepared the Rules and Regulations. It
reminded the public that implementing rules should not alter, amend or contravene the provision of
law they seek to realize.

The case of Pablico v. Villapando visited the Senate deliberations of the law to learn the
legislative intent behind Section 60. In the Senate, the provision originally read proper Regional
Trial Court or the Sandiganbayan. Senator Saguisag suggested that the phrase be replaced with
Courts but Senator Pimentel suggested the phrase or the proper court, which was later adopted
in the law. This but only affirms that the legislature had intended that only courts could remove
elective local officials.

Yet, the power of removal is not bestowed solely on the courts; the Ombudsman posses the
same power. In the case of Estarija v. Ranaza, the Court categorically stated that under Republic
Act No. 6770 and the 1987 Constitution, the Ombudsman has the constitutional power to directly
remove from government service an erring public official other than a member of Congress and the
Judiciary. The Court went further and declared in the case of Office of the Ombudsman v.
Rodriguez that the Ombudsman has concurrent jurisdiction with the sangguniang bayan over
administrative cases against elective barangay officials occupying positions below salary grade 27.

However, the Sanggunian is not at all deprived of any disciplining power. The Court has
declared in the case of The Sangguniang Barangay (supra) that the most extreme penalty that the
Sangguniang Panlungsod or Sangguniang Bayan may impose on the erring elective barangay
official is suspension; if it deems that the removal of the official from service is warranted, then it
can resolve that the proper charges be filed in court. It is the power to remove that is withheld
from them.