We find the OCA’s recommendation to be well-founded. Judge Limbona committed grave offenses which rendered him unfit to continue as a member of the Judiciary. When he was appointed as a judge, he took an oath to uphold the law, yet in filing a certificate of candidacy as a party-list representative in the May 1998 elections without giving up his judicial post, Judge Limbona violated not only the law, but the constitutional mandate that “no officer or employee in the civil service shall engage directly or indirectly, in any electioneering or partisan political campaign.”
The NBI investigation on the authenticity of Judge Limbona’s signatures on the certificate of candidacy unqualifiedly established that the judge signed the certificate of candidacy for the May 1998 elections, thus negating his claim that his signatures were forged. The filing of a certificate of candidacy is a partisan political activity as the candidate thereby offers himself to the electorate for an elective post.
For his continued performance of his judicial duties despite his candidacy for a political post, Judge Limbona is guilty of grave misconduct in office. While we cannot interfere with Judge Limbona’s political aspirations, we cannot allow him to pursue his political goals while still on the bench. We cannot likewise allow him to deceive the Judiciary. We find relevant the OCA’s observation on this point:
“x x x Judge Limbona’s concealment of his direct participation in the 1998 elections while remaining in the judiciary’s payroll and his vain attempt to mislead the Court by his claim of forgery, are patent acts of dishonesty rendering him unfit to remain in the judiciary.”
In light of the gravity of Judge Limbona’s infractions, we find OCA’s recommended penalty of dismissal to be appropriate. Under the Rules of Court, dishonesty and gross misconduct are punishable by dismissal. We also approve the OCA recommendation that Judge Limbona be made to refund the salaries/allowances he received fromMarch 26, 1998 toNovember 30, 1998. With this ruling, we likewise resolve the charge against Judge Limbona — referred to us by the Court’s Second Division in itsJune 16, 2003 Resolution in A.M. No. SCC-03-08 — that the respondent judge continued to perform judicial functions and to receive his salaries as judge after he had filed a certificate of candidacy in the May 1998 elections.