105 PHIL 385
Ochate is the incumbent municipal Mayor of Clarin, Misamis Occidentak, while P and Deling are the incumbent Provincial Governor of the Province and Vice-Mayor of the said municipality, respectively.
In an administrative complaint, Ochate was charged before the Provincial Board of: (1) organizing, participating, and tolerating illegal cockfights and other forms of gambling; (2) committing grave public scandals and acts unbecoming of a public official; (3) misconduct in office (in slapping his wife and daughter inside the municipal building in front of many people); (4) neglect of duty; and (5) oppression. On the same date that the priginal administrative charges was filed, the Governor suspended Ochate from office, directing the latter to turn over the same to Deling, the Vice-Mayor.
Ochate questions the legality of the administrative charges and of the order of suspension. Hence, this action.
Under Sec.2188, Revised Administrative Code, the authority of the Provincial Governor to receive and investigate complInys against municipal officials rests on 2 grounds:
- neglect of duty, oppression, corruption or other forms of maladministration of office, and
- conviction by final judgment of any crime involving moral turpitude.
Pending action by the Provincial Board, the Provincial Government may suspend the officer concerned if in his opinion the charge is one affecting the official integrity of the officer charged.
Are the administrative charges above-stated grounds for the valid suspension of Ochate?
No. Acts charged affect only his character as a private individual.
Ochate's acts “cannot be safely said or considered to be related to the performance of his official duties” and he does not have to be a Mayor to commit the offenses charged.
“Misconduct in Office” is misconduct such as affects the performance of his duties as an officer and not such as only affects his character as a private individual.
The misconduct, misfeasance or malfeasance warranting removal of an officer from office must have direct relation to and be connected with the performance of official duties amounting to either maladministration or willful, intentional neglect and failure to discharge the duties of the office.
In the instant case, the records fail to indicate that Ochate was motivated by any official considerations when he committed the acts complained of. It appears that the acts complained of were done for more personal reason.
Moreover, the alleged violation of the gambling law occurred within another municipality. The charges of “oppression” seems too superficial to meet the standard fixed in the legal definition of “oppression”. Ochate was accused and convicted of slight physical injuries which did not involve moral turpitude; he does not appear to have been convicted of the charges of “illegal cockfighting” and “assaults upon agents in authority”. The charges do not constitute misconduct or maladministration of office. As such, the order of suspension was not founded on legal grounds.