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Facts: During the first term of Mayor Sulong, an administrative complaint was filed against him and several other individuals for Dishonesty, Falsification of Public Documents, Malversation of Public Funds and violation RA No. 3019. On February 4 1992, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Zamboanga Del Sur found him guilty of the charges and ordered his removal from office. Mayor Sulong filed a motion for reconsideration and/or notice of appeal shortly thereafter. The Sanggunian ordered the complainant in AC No 12-91 to comment. Pending appeal, then ViceMayor Vicente Imbing took his oath and assumed the office of Mayor of Lapuyan on March 3, 1992 pursuant to Section 68 of the Local Gov't Code which allows for the execution pending appeal of administrative decisions. From February 1992 to August 2001, no comment was ever filed by the complainant in AC No 12-91 nor has the Sanggunian resolved Sulongs MR/Appeal. In the May 2001 Elections, Lingating and Sulong both ran for the position of Mayor of Lapuyan. On May 3, 2001, Lingating file a petition for disqualification of Sulong on the ground that the latter is disqualified from running for any elective local position having been removed from office during his first term (1988-1991) as a result of an administrative case (AC No 12-91) pursuant to Section 40(b) of the Local Government Code. Respondent Sulong denied that the decision in AC No 12-91 had ever become final and executory since up to the filing of the disqualification case, no comment has been filed nor has the appeal been resolved. After the parties had filed their memoranda, the case was submitted for resolution. The COMELEC, however, was unable to render judgment before the elections of May 14, 2001, where Sulong was elected and proclaimed Mayor of Lapuyan. In a resolution dated August 1, 2001, the COMELEC declared respondent Cesar B. Sulong disqualified adhering to section 40(b) of the Local Government Code. Respondent Sulong filed an MR arguing that the decision in AC No. 12-91 has not become final and executory; that at no time had he been removed by virtue of the said decision, and that the issue was moot and academic having been "overtaken by the local elections of May 11, 1992." Lingating filed an opposition to the MR contending that the fact that Sulong was succeeded by Vice Mayor Imbing was proof that AC No. 12-91 had indeed become final. Lingating also prayed that he be installed as Mayor of Lapuyuan in view of Sulong's disqualification. The COMELEC First Division denied Lingatings motion on the ground that the disqualification of an elected candidate does not entitle the candidate who obtained the second highest number of votes to occupy the office vacated. Lingating then filed a motion for reconsideration of this order. The COMELEC en banc reversed the decision of the first division, citing Aguinaldo v. COMELEC that re-election renders an administrative case moot and academic. It also ruled that respondent Sulong was not entitled to occupy the office thus vacated. Lingating contends that the COMELEC en banc erred in applying the ruling in Aguinaldo vs. COMELEC. Instead, Lingating argues that the applicable case is Reyes v. COMELEC where the court held that an elective local executive officer, who is removed before the expiration of the term for which he was elected, is disqualified from being a candidate for a local elective position under Section 40(b) of the LGC. Hence, this petition. Issue: Whether or not Sumulong is disqualified to run for local election Held: The filing of motion for reconsideration by Sulong prevented the decision of Sangguniang Panlalawigan from becoming final. There is thus no decision finding Sulong guilty to speak of. Neither

can the succession of the then vice-mayor of Lapuyan, Vicente Imbing, to the office of mayor be considered proof that the decision in AC No. 12-91 had become final because it appears to have been made pursuant to Sec 68 [16] of the Local Government Code, which makes decisions in administrative cases immediately executory. Aguinaldo and Reyes Cases are inapplicable. In Aguinaldo v COMELEC, the court held that removal cannot extend beyond the term during which the alleged misconduct was committed. If a public official is not removed before his term of office expires, he can no longer be removed if he is thereafter reelected for another term. However, Aguinaldo is not applicable as at the time the case was decided, there was no provision similar to 40(b) of the LGC and hence, cannot be given retroactive effect. Neither is Reyes vs. COMELEC applicable as AC No. 12-91 remains to this day, not final. (G.R. No. 153475, November 13, 2002)