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ATENEO STUDENT JUDICIAL COURT Ateneo de Manila University - Loyola Schools Barangay Loyola Heights, Quezon City

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS OF THE LOYOLA SCHOOLS Petitioner represented by CHIEF PROSECUTOR CLYDE MARAMBA, PROSECUTORS BEATRIZ BEATO, ROBERT MARI IBAY, JULIA DARYL LENARZ, MAGDALENA MARIE PINEDA, JIEGO MICHAEL TANCHANCO, CRISTINE MARIE VILLARUEL, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR JAYVY GAMBOA, AND DEPUTY CLERK OF COURT PATRICK JOSEPH NG versus SOSS SECRETARY-TREASURER MARVIN LAGONERA Respondent

Case No. 2013-001

Promulgated: January 10, 2014

x----------------------------------------------------------------------------------x TO: Mr. Clyde Maramba, Chief Prosecutor (Petitioner) and Mr. Andre Miko Alazas, Lead Counsel for Mr. Lagonera (Respondent) IN RE: Consolidated Decision on the Urgent Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration, Postponement of Hearing, Dismissal filed by the Respondent and; the Impeachment Complaint filed by the Petitioner on the charge of Appointment of Executive Officers and Central Board Representatives without due process, and the charge of Mismanagement
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ATENEO STUDENT JUDICIAL COURT DECISION 01102014 QUORUM PER CURIAM: Pertinent to the cause of this decision are the following:
On 2 December 2013, the Ateneo Student Judicial Court (hereinafter referred to as “the Court” for brevity), received a consolidated impeachment complaint from Mr. Clyde Maramba, Chief Prosecutor, et al. (hereinafter referred to as “the Petitioners”, containing six (6) impeachment charges against Mr. Marvin Lagonera, SOSS Secretary-Treasurer (hereinafter referred to as “the Respondent”). The following complaints were lodged against the Respondent:       Usurping the School Board Chairpersonship Appointment of Block and Course Representatives without due process Illegal creation of the Committee System, a structure that undermines the roles and responsibilities of the Executive Officers and the Executive Committee and; Corruption, related to offering a public-office position to a person, with the condition the person changes political affiliation to the Secretary-Treasurer’s party Appointment of Executive Officers and Central Board Representatives without due process and; Failing to keep the records of the School Board transparent and falsification of official School Board documents in the course of the investigation.

On 5 December 2013, the Court received a list of Errata submitted by the Petitioners. The Errata retracted erroneous quoting and statements and provided the correct ones for the Petitioner’s Consolidated Impeachment Complaint. On 6 December 2013, the Court received a Consolidated Motion for a Bill of Particulars and an Extension of the Deadline for Reply and/or Filing of Motions filed by Mr. Andre Miko Alazas, lead counsel for the Respondent. Through the Motion, the Respondent asked for a Bill of Particulars and all evidence referred to by the Impeachment Complaints and a 5-day extension to the deadline for filing of Motions. On 7 December 2013, the Court released its Decision regarding the Consolidated Motion for a Bill of Particulars and an Extension of the Deadline for Reply and/or Filing of Motions. The Court ruled that the impeachment charges already suffice as a Bill of Particulars and sent in all documents relevant to the case. By suspending the Rules of Court Section 5.2.1, the Court, in the spirit of fairness, granted the load of reading the 6 impeachment cases, granted a forty-eight (48) hour extension in the filing of Motions, effectively moving the deadline to 9 December 2013. On 9 December 2013, the Court received a Motion to Dismiss filed by Mr. Miko Alazas, Lead Counsel of the Respondent. 2

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On 11 December 2013, the Court dismissed four of the six impeachment charges against the Respondent for lack of due merit and accepted the remaining two impeachment charges, as per Decision 12112013:
“WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court hereby dismisses the following the impeachment complaints lodged against the Respondent for lack of due merit:     Usurping the School Board Chairpersonship Appointment of Block and Course Representatives without due process Illegal creation of the Committee System, a structure that undermines the roles and responsibilities of the Executive Officers and the Executive Committee and; Corruption, related to offering a public-office position to a person, with the condition the person changes political affiliation to the Secretary-Treasurer’s party

WHEREFORE, similarly in view of the foregoing, the Court hereby accepts the following impeachment complaints lodged against the Respondent:   Appointment of Executive Officers and Central Board Representatives without due process Failing to keep the records of the School Board transparent and falsification of official School Board documents in the course of the investigation”

The Court also sent a Notice of Hearing to the concerned parties immediately after releasing the decision. On 14 December 2013, the Court held a pre-trial conference between the Petitioners and the Respondents. The Court officially received all evidence from both parties. The Court explained the Hearing Procedures and Rules of Impeachment as well as gave both parties the chance to interact and clarify some points. On 17 December 2013, the Court received Case Briefs from both parties, listing their witnesses for the hearing and the summary of their arguments. On 19 December 2013, the Court received a notice from the Petitioners that they are withdrawing the impeachment charge on Falsification of Official School Board Documents in the course of the investigation. The reason for doing so was not stated in their Motion. However, the Petitioners stated that they will continue with the charge on failing to keep the records of the School Board transparent. On 20 December 2013, the Court received a Motion to Dismiss from the Respondent’s Lead Counsel. The Respondent prayed that the charge on failing to keep the records of the School Board transparent be dismissed for failure to ask for proper relief and for lack of cause of action. On the same day, the Court convened as an impeachment tribunal in a public hearing to try the charge on “Appointment of Executive Officers and Central Board Representatives without due process,” with both parties present. The Court also rejected the Motion to Dismiss and ruled that the charge on “Failure to keep School Board Documents transparent has its own merits separate from the merits of Falsification of official School Board Documents, and that impeachment is the right relief for the case.” 3

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The following witnesses were examined by both Petitioners and Respondents in the Impeachment Hearing:         Jomar Villanueva, acting 4th Year SOSS SB Executive Officer and duly elected Senior AB/MA-PoS Course Representative, Christopher Cunanan, acting 3rd Year SOSS SB Executive Officer and duly elected Junior AB Dip IR Course Representative, Marvin Lagonera, Respondent and duly elected SOSS Secretary-Treasurer, Rafael Niccolo Martinez, acting 3th Year Central Board Representative for SOSS and duly elected Junior AB POS Course Representative, Kevin Luke Mizon, acting 4th Year Central Board Representative for SOSS and duly elected Senior AB DS Course Representative, Abelardo Hernandez, duly elected 2nd Year Central Board Representative for SOSS, Louis de Jesus, former 3rd Year Central Board Representative for SOSS and; Alyssa Nuqui, former Appointed 4th Year Central Board Representative for SOSS

On the same day, the Court announced that the impeachment proceedings would continue the next year upon resumption of classes, upon interpretation of the provision in the 2005 Undergraduate Constitution of the Loyola Schools (hereinafter referred to as the “Constitution” for brevity), which states:
“Section 8. Powers and Responsibilities of the Student Judicial Court (a) To sit en banc, hear, try and resolve by a two-thirds vote within three weeks any complaint involving the constitutionality, legality, or jurisdiction of the acts, policies, and resolutions of Sanggunian officials;” (emphasis ours),

the interpretation of the said provision being that “three weeks” amounts to twenty-one (21) regular school days, implying that the entire impeachment complaint must be resolved by 10 January 2014. On 23 December 2013, the Respondents, through e-mail, filed an Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Reconsideration, stating that the Petitioners cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt the charges with the withdrawal of the complaint regarding Falsification of official School Board Documents and that they have failed to exhaust all administrative remedies stated in the School Board Code of Internal Procedures before filing the complaint. On 25 December 2013, the Court officially received the Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Reconsideration. On 29 December 2013, the Court sent an e-mail to both parties, stating that the Decision regarding the Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Reconsideration will be released on 5 January 2014. The Court also requested the Petitioners to furnish the reasons as to why they dropped the charge regarding the complaint regarding Falsification of official School Board Documents.

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On 31 December 2013, the Petitioners filed a Motion to Extend the deadline on submitting the requested reasons. They cited that they assumed the Court was closed during the break, a large percentage of members are out of the town, three out of the four days given are holidays and that they did not receive a copy of the Motion to Dismiss filed by the Respondent’s legal counsel on 20 December 2013. On the same day, the Respondent’s Lead Counsel replied to the Petitioner’s Motion to Extend, reminding the Court that they passed an Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Reconsideration and protested against the Petitioners’ Motion to Extend. On 2 January 2014, the Court released its Decision regarding the Petitioners’ Motion to Extend. In the spirit of fairness, the Court decided to grant the Petitioners’ Motion to Extend, effectively moving it to 6 January 2014. The Court gave the same leniency it has granted to the Respondent’s Motion to Extend on the Deadline for filing of Motions. As per Decision 01022014, this Court ruled:
“As it is, relief prayed for by the accused imposes an unwarranted demand on the Court to release a decision on whether to accept or reject the existing management charge without giving ample time for the Petitioners' side to be heard, again prejudicing their rights. Time and time again the Court has allowed the Respondent's side to be heard, as is proper. The Court only finds it similarly proper for the same opportunity to be heard to be accorded to the Petitioners, in the interest of due process. The Court thus finds it unbecoming for the Respondent to oppose the Motion to Extend, effectively blocking the Petitioners’ opportunity to prepare their reasons within reasonable time during the holiday season, in the name of rights he has not even specified. The right to be granted relief based on “the very nature of the motion” is to be upheld only if the very nature of the motion is itself just and equitable. Such is not the case in this respect for the reasons given by the Petitioners and those given above. The Respondent is reminded that the right to a swift decision must be executed only if said decision can be ascertained to be just and impartial. The Court thus accepts the Petitioners' rationale for their Motion to Extend, that they were not given notice of the Motion to Dismiss and it is unreasonable to demand them urgent reply during the holiday season. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the motion to extend the Petitioners' deadline for giving their reasons for dropping the fraud charge from January 2 to January 5 is hereby granted. The decision on the Respondent’s ex-parte motion for reconsideration will be released on January 6.”

On 5 January 2014, the Court received from the Petitioners the reasons as to why they withdrew the charge on Falsification of Official School Board Documents. On 6 January 2014, the Court released its Decision on the Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Reconsideration. This Court rejected the Motion for Reconsideration on the grounds that the Respondent has speculated on the reasons of the Petitioners for dropping their charge, and that the Respondent’s guilt will be established through preponderance of evidence, not beyond reasonable doubt as the Respondent mentioned in the Motion. The Court also ruled that the cause of action for the charge on Failure to keep School Board Documents transparent is distinct from the cause of action for the charge on Falsification of Official School Board Documents. The Court also concluded that while the School Board Code of Internal Procedures stipulates certain administrative remedies, impeachment remains one remedy that may be administered if the gravity of the offense is sufficient enough. The Court reiterated that the 5

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mismanagement charge constitutes a justiciable controversy that must be deliberated upon in the impeachment proceedings. As per Decision 01062014, this Court ruled:
“The Court considers both the sanctions provided by the Code of Internal Procedures and the Constitution valid. The application of the action to the offender should be dependent on both the jurisdiction of the documents, the appropriateness of the sanction and the gravity of the offense... The Court recognizes that single acts may not be split into multiple charges calling for different reliefs. However, in the mismanagement case, the Petitioner clearly stated that there are distinct causes for the two charges... The causes of action are obviously distinct. The Court has previously ruled that the mismanagement case has merit on its own even without the causes of action and evidence provided in the fraud case and stands by this decision. To reject the mismanagement case on the aforementioned bases provided by the Respondent will be unjust, especially when it had been deemed substantial in the first place... WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court rejects this Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Reconsideration. The mismanagement case shall be heard in Court.”

On 7 January 2014, the Court, upon the unavailability of both parties during the scheduled period reserved for a private trial, ruled that a physical hearing will not be held anymore due to logistical constraints. The Court requested both parties to submit a position paper regarding their prayer and supporting arguments for the Charge on Failure to keep School Board Documents. The order was sent as an informal email but the formal statement on the cancellation of hearing was released on the 8th of January. On 8 January 2014, the Court released a resolution cancelling the hearing on the mismanagement charge on the grounds that the inability of the Court and the parties involved to convene at a common time and at a reasonable period before the 10 January deadline renders it logistically impossible to hold another hearing. The Court instead opted to have both parties submit written statements for use in the final deliberations, and the decision on the impeachment complaint would be based on all the parties’ arguments and all the evidence in possession of the Court. This Court ruled via Resolution 01082014:
“WHEREFORE, the hearing set for the Mismanagement case is hereby cancelled due to logistical constraints that render it impossible to meet with both parties at a common time. Moreover, both parties are ordered to submit their final statements and arguments on the charge of Mismanagement by 6 pm on Thursday, January 9.”

On 9 January 2014, the Court received both parties’ final statements and arguments, as well as an Urgent Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration, Postponement of Hearing, and Dismissal from the Respondent. Respondent through counsel argued in said Urgent Omnibus Motion:

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“The defendant would like to argue that not having a trial at this point in the case will be extremely prejudicial to the right of the defendant to a speedy and impartial trial. It is in the interest of the student body, the defendant, as well as the Court that the trial be concluded through the proper processes. The highly publicized and novel nature of this impeachment case simply cannot be ignored by the Court. Handing out a mere summary judgment on the charge of mismanagement would be to deny the defendant his right to substantive and procedural due process. This impeachment process takes on the novel character under the current situation, and public interest requires that due process of the law be followed, lest the Court be accused of railroading this entire process of impeachment. The Court should see to it that the defendant sees his day in Court, for ‘in all controversial questions, [the Courts should] render its decision in such a manner that the parties to the proceeding can know the various issues involved, and the reasons for the decision rendered. The performance of this duty is inseparable from the authority conferred upon it.’ Thus, the defendant prays that the Court reconsider its decision to cancel the trial for mismanagement and set another time and date for the trial. However, the defense will still comply with the order of the Court to submit its substantive arguments regarding the mismanagement case. The defense, however, submits the reply in protest of the Court’s decision to cancel the trial and to simply decide the case in a summary proceeding. The defense strongly believes that the defendant should be given his day in court. The defendant is a public official, and it is in the interest of the student body that an elected public official subjected to an impeachment case be given the right to defend himself and his office.” xxx

Before us is a dual burden of deciding whether or not to reconsider our decision to cancel the hearing, and that of ruling on the two impeachment charges that remain. Ad impossible nemo tenetur – “No one is bound to an impossibility.” The Respondent’s Urgent Omnibus Motion for Reconsideration and Postponement of Hearing is manifestly without merit. The issue at hand is whether both parties should see their day in Court, for “in all controversial questions, [the Courts should] render its decision in such a manner that the parties to the proceeding can know the various issues involved, and the reasons for the decision rendered. The performance of this duty is inseparable from the authority conferred upon it.”1 This Court opines that given the prevailing circumstances, i.e., the fact that a decision on the impeachment complaint based on the two remaining charges filed against the Respondent should be released by 10 January 2014, and the fact that both parties were still able to present evidence and submit their pleadings, cancelling the hearing on the mismanagement charge was not only the proper course of action but also the only possible recourse that the Court can take without prejudicing the rights of either party.
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Ang Tibay v. CIR and NLRC, G.R. No. L46496

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Three points must be impressed upon the Respondent: First, cancelling the hearing does not mean that the decision will be rendered summarily to the effect of prejudicing the Respondent’s substantive and procedural rights. In the first place, an administrative proceeding like an impeachment case in the context of a student government setting involves no substantive right which protects a person’s inviolable right to life, liberty, and property. It is absurd for the Respondent to argue that his substantive rights are being prejudiced when his life, liberty, or property remain inviolate in the course of the impeachment proceedings. In no way does the present impeachment complaint assume the nature of a criminal proceeding, which is the proper province for application of substantive due process of law. Also, a procedural right to a hearing per se is not a right enshrined in the active provisions of the 2007 SJC Rules of Court. The Court invokes Section 5.2.1 of the said document:
“5.2.1 Acceptance of Petition If the Student Judicial Court decides to accept the petition, the hearing on the petition , if the court decides to conduct a hearing, shall be held no later than seven days after the said decision. Before coming to a decision of whether to accept the petition for review or consideration, the court shall inform the parties named and from the time the parties are informed, three days are to be given for any motions to the court. The Student Judicial Court has due discretion on whether a public hearing is to be held. If a public hearing will not take place, the court will inform the parties of such and the parties will have a maximum of five days to give their arguments to the court , depending on the notice of the court, but it shall be no less than one full day.” (emphasis ours)

It can be gleaned from the applicable procedural rules that this Court reserves full discretion on whether to hold hearings based on the circumstances. As it is, ordering both parties to submit their evidence and their replies, as well as the fact that these replies will be public information after the resolution of the case at bar, ensures that the Court can “render its decision in such a manner that the parties to the proceeding can know the various issues involved, and the reasons for the decision rendered.” 2 Second, as this Court had time and time again ratiocinated, the prevailing circumstances prevent the material occurrence of a public hearing at a reasonable period before the deadline for releasing the final decision because both parties could not find a common time for such a hearing, rendering the same a logistical impossibility. Unless the Respondent can suggest before this Court of a way on how to alter reality, the decision to cancel the hearing stands. This Court believes that a decision that resolves the impeachment complaint with finality and clarity is of utmost importance. Forestalling the deliberations any further would logically mean that the Constitutional deadline must be violated. It goes without saying that this Court could not in good conscience violate the same Constitution it is mandated to uphold. Nor can the other recourse be taken, that a decision not be released on the deadline, effectively dismissing both charges and letting this controversy to go unresolved in perpetua. The
2

ibid.

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dilemma imposed by the Respondent on this Court of whether to violate the Constitution or to allow the case at bar to go unresolved with clarity and finality (thereby prejudicing the rights of both the Petitioners and the Respondent) is gravely unwarranted and cannot be understated. The Court opines that it must base its decision on fact and on law. That is why, as per Decision 12112013, this Court dismissed the charge on usurpation of the Chairpersonship filed against the Respondent:
“The Court accepts the Respondent’s argument that by virtue of his office as Secretary -Treasurer and the fact that the Chairpersonship is vacant, the Respondent has been acting indeed as de facto Chairperson. It is the opinion of the Court that application of the law cannot go contrary to fact. As second-in-command of the School Board, and as one holding succession rights to the position under normal circumstances (i.e. not during failure of elections), the Secretary-Treasurer is then logically presumed to be acting rightfully as de facto Chairperson.” (emphasis ours)

Whilst common sense dictates that in the absence of a Chairperson the Secretary-Treasurer must act as de facto Chairperson, common sense also states that the Court most obviously cannot violate the Constitution, nor will it allow the rights of either party to be trampled upon. The Court remains steadfast in its commitment to the rule of law and the rendering of just and equitable judgments. Thirdly, on a tangential note, the Court opines that it is in the greater interest of the student body to not violate the Constitution and to resolve the issues with finality than to hold a public hearing (assuming arguendo that such is even possible at this point), which at present prove to be two mutually-exclusive options. It is a non-sequitur to assume that the public nature of the proceedings necessitates a public hearing. Such assertion has no basis in fact, law, or logic. The decision of this Court takes precedence over any imaginary interest of the court of public opinion. Moreover, Respondent’s argument for public disclosure of the arguments and reasons of the decision thereof is rendered moot by the fact that their final statements will be made public information after the verdict is given. The matter must be laid to rest with clarity and finality without fighting impossibilities, violating the Constitution, or prejudicing the rights of both parties. As such, the Court’s ruling on the two remaining impeachment charges are included in this consolidated decision. WHEREFORE, the motion to reconsider the decision to cancel the trial for mismanagement and set another time and date for the trial is denied. This Court will deliver its decision on the two remaining impeachment charges on 10 January 2014. xxx Charge of Illegal Appointments of Central Board Representatives and Executive Officers The Court sees three major points that should be put into question. First, the Court questions if the appointment of the Executive Officers and Central Board Representatives are substantial; second, assuming that these appointments were substantial or material, whether they were done legally; and third if the appointments were made in good faith. 9

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On the question of substantiality, the Court separated the analysis on the appointment of Executive Officers and appointment of Central Board representatives to consider the circumstances of each type of appointment. To question the substantiality of the Central Board representative appointments, the Court considered two things: 1. Were the acting CB representatives legally recognized by the Central Board; and 2. Did the acting representatives voluntarily take the position In the testimony of Mr. Kevin Mizon, acting 4th year CB representative, taken December 20, 2014, he stated that he was not officially part of the roll call and minutes of the meeting during CB meetings. This was also found in Mr. Abelardo Hernandez’s, elected 2nd year Central Board Representative, written affidavit that “Mr. Kevin Mizon and Mr. Polo Martinez were never recognized in the Central Board meetings…” Furthermore, as found in the evidence submitted to the Court, the acting CB representatives are not part of the ADMU Sanggu T55 2013-2014 Facebook group or the directory of the said group. The Court therefore opines that the acting CB representatives were not recognized by the Central Board as official officers of the SOSS School Board. In the testimony of Mr. Marvin Lagonera, he states that the appointments he made are “…to be called “volunteers” or “point-persons” until clarified with the Court.” The Court therefore believes that the acting CB representatives were in fact volunteers as the representatives were not coerced. Given the two arguments above, the Court believes that the appointments of CB Representatives made by the Respondent were insubstantial on the grounds that they were not officially recognized by the Central Board and that they chose to accept the responsibility of their respective offices. In view of the foregoing, the Court opines that these appointments were immaterial and thus there is no issue to litigate. The question of whether they were legal is now considered moot. The impeachment complaint of illegal appointments of Central Board Officers is hereby dismissed. For the appointed Executive Officers, the Court discusses three points: 1. Were the acting executive officers recognized; 2. What were the powers they held; and 3. Did the Respondent have final say in what it is the appointed officers did In the testimony of Mr. Chris Cunanan, acting 3rd year SOSS Executive Officer, he mentioned that he was recognized by Course Representatives and by the SOSS School Board. He was also recognized by other people outside the SOSS School Board. Mr. Cunanan also states that he was referred acting EO during the SOSS Plansem and Committee meetings. Based on the testimonies given by the witnesses, the Court upholds that the appointed Executive Officers were indeed recognized as acting officers.

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In the testimony of Mr. Jomar Villanueva, acting 4th year SOSS Executive Officer, he mentioned that as an appointed Executive Officer, he held the powers of an elected Executive Officer without voting powers. In addition, Mr. Cunanan said that he was instructed by Mr. Lagonera to look for possible representatives to fill vacancies. The Court therefore upholds that the appointed Executive Officers had the powers similar to an elected EO except without voting powers. In the Respondent’s testimony, he said that he had the “last say” when Cunanan looked for candidates. It only means that the Respondent still finalizes the appointments and that Mr. Cunanan and his fellow acting EOs were only to suggest candidates to the Respondent. In view of the foregoing, the Court believes that the appointments of EO Representatives made by the Respondent were substantial and material on the grounds that the officers had power and were recognized by the SOSS School Board. We now move to the second issue, on the question of legality. The Court asks if there are extant provisions on the Respondent’s appointment of Executive Officers. Article XV Section 4c of the Constitution states that:
“Vacancies for the positions of School Board Secretary -Treasurer occurring after the election of Freshman Representatives shall be filled by the Chairperson appointing an Executive Officer to the post, subject to confirmation by three-fourths of the entire School Board. Vacancies of the same nature for Executive Officers shall be filled by the concerned constituency’s block or course representatives electing amongst themselves a replacement. Officers so appointed will not enjoy succession rights.”

As can be seen in the provision above, vacancies in the position of Executive Officers can be filled by having the course representatives who fall under the jurisdiction of the Executive Officer vote for an Executive Officer. This only means that there is a rule to follow in appointing Executive Officers and that the Respondent did not follow this. However, the Court also questions whether the Course Representatives have met to vote on a new Executive Officer. Given that there was no evidence stating that the Course Representatives did meet, the Court opines that no such meeting happened. In his testimony, Respondent said that “we should refer to them as ad interim because of their being synonymous with point-persons.” Quoting the Respondent’s definition of ad interim taken from the Supreme Court of the Philippines’ decision in Pamantasang Lungsod ng Maynila v. Intermediate Appellate Court (1985)3 :
“The term [ad interim] is defined by Black to mean ‘in the meantime’ or for the time being. Thus, an officer ad interim is one appointed to fill a vacancy, or to discharge the duties of the office during the absence or temporary incapacity of its regular incumbent (Black’s Law Dictionary, Revised Fourth Edition, 1978).
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G.R. No. L65439

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But such is not the meaning nor the use in the context of Philippine Law. In referring to Dr. Esteban ’s appointments, the term is not descriptive of the nature of the appointments given to him. Rather, it is used to denote the manner in which said appointments were made, that is, done by the President of the Pamantasan in the meantime, while the Board of Regents, which is originally vested by the University with the power of appointment is unable to act”

Because the Respondent made the appointments with the thought that they were only temporary, the Court now questions how long “temporary” is. The Court interprets “temporary” as “until the next election.” In the provision above on vacancies of the School Board Secretary-Treasurer it is said that the course or block reps are allowed to meet and vote on the position of Executive Officer after the freshman elections. Therefore, if after the freshman elections and the position of Executive Officer is still vacant, the next election period would be when the course or block representatives meet. Because no evidence exists to prove that course or block representatives met to fill in the vacant positions, the Court believes that these course or block representatives being the original body vested with the power to fill in the vacant positions were unable to act. The Court therefore upholds that the appointments of ad interim officers were legal as the course or block representatives had not convened and thus were unable to act. It only means that so long as the next election period has not yet happened, whether it be the general elections or the block/course rep votation, the appointed ad interim officers may stay in office. In view of the foregoing, the impeachment complaint of illegal appointments of Executive Officer is hereby dismissed. Moreover, assuming arguendo that these appointments were not made legally, the Court agrees with the Respondent that these appointments were done in good faith. The Court deems it logical for the Respondent to have appointed Executive Officers in order for the SOSS Sanggunian School Board to function properly. Given the massive failure of elections during both 2013 General Elections and 2013 Freshmen & Special Elections, the SOSS School Board was occupied by less than half of the available positions. The Respondent cannot be faulted for making such appointments out of necessity due to the gravity of the context. Moreover, the Respondent stated that he was merely following institutional practice because no ruling issued by this Court had previously deemed any ad interim appointment to be illegal. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, Respondent Secretary-Treasurer Marvin Lagonera is found NOT GUILTY of the charge of illegal appointments of Central Board Representatives and Executive Officers. Respondent is AQCUITTED of the impeachment complaint lodged against him.

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Charge of Failure to Keep School Board Documents Transparent as Mismanagement Ignorantia legis non excusat – “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” The Court sees three major points that should be put into question. First, the Court questions if there was correspondence between the Secretary-General and the Respondent; second, whether there was failure to keep the transparency and accountability of the SOSS Sanggunian School Board; and third if the appropriate relief was prayed for by the Petitioners. On the question of correspondence, the Court considered the following points: 1. Did the Secretary-General contact the Respondent and ask for the minutes of meetings and all other pertinent documents and; 2. Is there any precedence on the Secretary-Treasurer’s act of not furnishing official minutes of meeting to the Secretary-General? In Mr. AJ Elicaño’s affidavit, he states that the Respondent attended an orientation session for the newly elected officers following the Freshman & Special Elections on 16 August 2013. During Mr. Elicaño’s presentation, he specifically stated his policy with minutes, which were to be submitted to him on the first Monday of every month at 9:00 AM. Furthermore, Mr. Elicaño states that he has yet to receive any minutes from the Respondent. The Court acknowledges that Mr. Elicaño indeed gave specific deadlines for the minutes in his presentation. In the Respondent’s Final Statement submitted to the Court on the night of 9 January 2014, the Respondent claimed that Mr. Elicaño never asked him for any minutes whether via traditional means or online means and that the only recorded instance of reminding the Respondent was done on 13 December 2013, while the Respondent was on a Leave of Absence. The Secretary-General has had correspondence with the Secretary-Treasurers and had promulgated specific rules that he claims were followed by all other Secretary-Treasurers save the Respondent. The presentation slides given during the orientation explicitly show that the Secretary-General asks for the minutes of the meetings and expects them to be sent on certain days. In the affidavits of Ms. Kayla Patricia Torres and Mr. Brian Chua, both former Secretary-Treasurers of the SOSS Sanggunian School Board, both state that the minutes of meetings and other pertinent documents of the SOSS Sanggunian School Board were never collected by the Secretary-General. The Respondent believes that this institutional precedence due to the lack of specific provisions in the School Board CIP regarding these administrative matters should excuse the Secretary-Treasurer for non-submission of documents. However, Secretary-General Elicaño collects the minutes of meetings, among other documents, from the School Board Secretary-Treasurers. He also has specific policies with regards to the minutes, which was mentioned in the preceding paragraphs. The Court believes that institutional 13

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precedence does not apply here because the current Secretary-General decided to collect the minutes as an exercise of his constitutional powers and his responsibilities. This is given by Article VII, Section 2 of the Constitution:
“C. The Secretary-General 1. To be the Chief Administrative Officer of the Sanggunian 2. To take charge of the daily and administrative affairs of the Sanggunian 3. To assist the President in the implementation of the Sanggunian’s Code of Internal Procedures 4. To be the official custodian of all records and papers of the Sanggunian, in coordination with School Board Secretary-Treasurers 5. To serve notices and take charge of the correspondence of the Sanggunian 6. To disseminate information about the activities and affairs of the Sanggunian 7. To prepare the agenda of meetings of the Board after due consultation with its members 8. To advise the President on matters of general administration 9. To create such additional units as may be necessary to discharge specific functions of the position 10. To perform such other functions the Board or President may so direct” (emphasis ours)

Given that the Secretary-General indeed asked the Respondent to furnish him with copies of the minutes and documents and that institutional precedence is overruled by the Secretary-General’s exercise of his responsibilities and the promulgation of a specific set of guidelines regarding the transfer of documents, the correspondence between the Secretary-General and the Respondent is valid. Institutional precedence in this case cannot exonerate the Respondent because he was clearly supposed to be informed of provisions of the Sanggunian School Board Code of Internal Procedures and have been informed of his duties by the Secretary-General. On the question of whether the Respondent failed to keep the School Board transparent and accountable, the Court considered the following points: 1. What importance do the minutes and documents of the School Board hold? 2. What are the implications of failing to send these documents? Minutes, attendance reports, and other documents reflect the status of the School Board. To quote the Petitioner’s Final Arguments for the case, “These documents are clear representation of the activities and agenda of the School Board.” These documents are considered public information, which the constituency of the SOSS School Board has an interest in. The content of these documents will influence how the officers act towards the fulfillment of certain goals and upholding of the thrusts determined by the School Board. The content of these documents directly affect the lives of their constituents. Disclosure of these documents to higher bodies and the public enables checks and balances to be done on the School Board. The argument of the Prosecution was that failing to send in these documents to the Secretary-General, the Respondent has disabled the Central Board from performing checks-and-balances on the School Board. The act of submitting documents to a higher body signifies that the officer is responsible not 14

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only for the process of submission, but for the actions recorded in the documents. The Respondent denied the School Board of assistance and evaluation from the Central Board. Without documents, the Central Board or any other body cannot validate the acts and policies of these officers. While the School Board is an autonomous body, the monitoring of other bodies contributes its well-being. By denying this essential function of the Central Board, it also cannot fully fulfill its duty to keep the whole Sanggunian transparent and accountable. The Respondent argues that non-submission of the minutes did not harm the School Board in any way. It is expected that the officers of the School Board have better access to these documents, and indeed, they are not harmed in a tangible way. However, the School Board itself is harmed in another way. It has damaged the transparency and the accountability of the School Board. The Respondent has failed to perform his responsibility to correspond with the appropriate official who indeed has the mandate to receive needed documents from the Respondent, which he did not fulfill. Respondent failed to live up to the standards of transparency and accountability expected of Sanggunian officers. On the question of whether the Petitioner sought the appropriate relief for the charge of mismanagement, the Court yet again stands by its ruling that the charge of mismanagement is indeed an impeachable offense but may be sanctioned in accordance with the provisions of the School Board CIP. The Court recognizes the gravity of impeachment as a sanction while recognizing that the extant provisions of the School Board CIP with regard to sanctions have yet to be applied. In the original petition, the Petitioner prayed for “appropriate sanctions” against the Respondent for the mismanagement case. The Court can then apply what it believes to be appropriate according to the facts and arguments of this case. The Petitioners prayed for the appropriate relief regarding the case. The Court agrees with the Respondent who successfully argued that the non-exhaustion of all administrative remedies is fatal to an impeachment complaint. The Court upholds basic principles of fairness and justice as is necessitated by procedural due process of law. It is very clear then that the Respondent does not deserve to be impeached. As such, however, the Petitioners never specified the Mismanagement charge to be an impeachment complaint, although impeachment remains a viable remedy for the Respondent’s offenses. It is the opinion of this Court, therefore, that it is just and equitable to enforce the appropriate administrative remedies as provided for by law to rectify the Respondent’s transgressions without impeaching him. The Sanggunian School Board Code of Internal Procedures specifies the appropriate penalties:
“Section 66. The following penalties shall be imposed on the violator: i. First offense: - written reprimand by the President (or the Vice President, if the President is at fault) to be posted in the message board of the room; - written apology addressed to the President (or to the Board, if the President is at fault)

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ii. Second offense: - written reprimand by the President (or the Vice President, if the President is at fault) to be posted in the message board of the room; - written apology addressed to the President (or to the Board, if the President is at fault); - mandatory work for the Office of the Secretary General (or the Office of the Finance Officer, if the Secretary-General is at fault) iii. Third and succeeding offenses: - written reprimand by the President (or the Vice President, if the President is at fault) posted in the Sanggunian bulletin board; - written apology addressed to the Student Body; - filing of impeachment case against the violator” (emphasis ours)

Given that, as the Petitioners have successfully argued, the offenses were grave and were committed repetitively, the Court avers that the proper sanctions to be applied are the following:   Written reprimand from the President of the Sanggunian, to be posted in the Sanggunian Bulletin Board (or any other extant medium to publicly inform the student body) Mandatory work for the Office of the Secretary-General (the nature of which shall be specified by the Secretary-General)

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, Respondent Secretary-Treasurer Marvin Lagonera is found GUILTY of the charge of failing to keep the School Board Documents transparent as mismanagement. Respondent is ACQUITTED of an impeachment complaint but is to suffer the penalties stipulated above.

Summary of the Decision/Ruling
WHEREFORE, the motion to reconsider the decision to cancel the trial for mismanagement and set another time and date for the trial is denied. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, Respondent Secretary-Treasurer Marvin Lagonera is found NOT GUILTY of the charge of illegal appointments of Central Board Representatives and Executive Officers. Respondent is AQCUITTED of the impeachment complaint lodged against him. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, Respondent Secretary-Treasurer Marvin Lagonera is found GUILTY of the charge of failing to keep the School Board Documents transparent as mismanagement. Respondent is ACQUITTED of an impeachment complaint but is to suffer the following penalties:   Written reprimand from the President of the Sanggunian, to be posted in the Sanggunian Bulletin Board (or any other extant medium to publicly inform the student body) Mandatory work for the Office of the Secretary-General (the nature of which shall be specified by the Secretary-General)

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SO ORDERED.

Roy Lambert Guerra, Chief Magistrate Danielle Joanna Gaite, Magistrate for Audit Lorenzo Pepito, Magistrate for Human Resources Ryan Gregory Nicolas, Magistrate for External Affairs Aldwin Segismundo, Magistrate for Project and Operations Management

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