The Sangguniang Bayan or Panlungsod shall have the power to hear and decide administrative cases against barangay officials within their territorial jurisdiction. This power is provided in Chapter IV of the Local Government Code which states the grounds for the imposition of disciplinary penalties upon erring local elected officials which includes those in the barangays. The chapter also outlines the basic procedures when it comes to the filing and conduct of the hearing in order to afford the respondent official due process so that he or she be given ample time and opportunity to defend her or himself. The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) have been issuing recommendations and have conducted seminars so that all local legislative bodies may enact their own rules with regard to the power to discipline erring elected officials. Until now however, many local legislative bodies have not yet adopted their rules most probably because the filing of administrative cases against elected officials is not that common but it should not be an excuse. The reason for the adoption of the rules is to afford the parties due process so that we can be sure that ample opportunity will be given to both complainant and respondent with regard to the case.
Sangguniang Barangay of Don Mariano vs. Martinez In one case, the penalty of dismissal was imposed against a punong barangay (Martinez) on grounds of dishonesty and misconduct in the performance of his functions. After the case was heard by the Sangguniang Bayan, it found Martinez guilty of the charges and imposed the penalty of dismissal. The mayor disagreed with the penalty and refused to execute the decision since according to him, the Sangguniang Bayan does not have the power to impose the penalty of dismissal but ordered Martinez suspended indefinitely. Martinez filed with the Regional Trial Court a special civil action for certiorari questioning the decision of the Sangguniang Bayan and the mayor. The RTC agreed with Martinez and declared the decision of the SB and that of the mayor as void. The penalty of dismissal cannot be imposed by the SB because only the courts have this power. The Sangguniang Barangay of Don Mariano Marcos filed a case before the Supreme Court questioning the decision of the trial court.
SB Has no Power to Dismiss Although the case was already moot because the case was already superseded by the local elections, the Supreme Court decided the case for academic purposes and to prevent similar cases from happening in the future. Section 60 of the the Local Government Code is quite clear: “An elective local official may be removed from office on the grounds enumerated above by order of the proper court.” This provision flatly answers the question of whether the SB can impose the penalty of removal against an elected Barangay official found guilty during the proceedings before it. Nevertheless, the SC went on to say: “In Salalima v. Guingona, Jr., the Court en banc categorically ruled that the Office of the President is without any power to remove elected officials, since the power is exclusively vested in the proper courts as expressly provided for in the last paragraph of Section 60 of the Local Government Code” (G.R. No. 170626. March 03, 2008) This should also remove any doubt or contrary interpretation of Section 60 of the LGC. The reason why the power to order the dismissal of an elected official is lodged only in the proper court was reiterated by the SC: “The law on suspension or removal of elective public officials must be strictly construed and applied, and the authority in whom such power of suspension or removal is vested must exercise it with utmost good faith, for what is involved is not just an ordinary public official but one chosen by the people through the exercise of their constitutional right of suffrage. Their will must not be put to naught by the caprice or partisanship of the disciplining authority.”