MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court (SC) has expanded the power of the Office of The Ombudsman to immediately implement the agency’s rulings on administrative cases despite pending appeals in the courts.
In a resolution penned by Chief Justice Renato Corona, the SC ruled that all penalties imposed by the Ombudsman on administrative cases against erring public officials should be immediately executory despite pending petitions and appeals in the courts.
“The decision of the Ombudsman is immediately executory pending appeal and may not be stayed by the filing of the appeal or the issuance of an injunctive writ,” the Court said in the ruling released yesterday.
The SC modified its September 2008 decision on the case of Ombudsman vs. Joel Samaniego, which held that “only orders, directives or decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative cases imposing the penalty of public censure, reprimand or suspension of not more than one month or a fine not equivalent to one month salary shall be final and unappealable, hence immediately executory.”
The Samaniego case was raised during the probe of the incident investigation and review committee (IIRC) on the Aug. 23 hostage-taking fiasco when it touched on the administrative case of hostage taker Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza.
The disgruntled policeman had wanted to be reinstated to service pending his appeal of the Ombudsman’s decision dismissing him from service for extortion.
The new ruling of the Court means the anti-graft office now has more power since it could now implement rulings on all administrative cases — not just those with minor penalties.
In partially reconsidering its 2008 ruling, the High Tribunal gave weight to Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman, as amended by Administrative Order 17 dated Sept. 15, 2003.
Under this rule, an appeal filed in courts like the Court of Appeals cannot stop the implementation of the Ombudsman order.
“In case the penalty is suspension or removal and the respondent wins such appeal, he shall be considered as having been under preventive suspension and shall be paid the salary and such other emoluments that he did not receive by reason of the suspension or removal,” the SC said.
“A decision of the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative cases shall be executed as a matter of course. The Office of the Ombudsman shall ensure that the decision shall be strictly enforced and properly implemented. The refusal or failure by any officer without just cause to comply with an order of the Office of the Ombudsman to remove, suspend, demote, fine, or censure shall be a ground for disciplinary action against such officer,” it added.
The SC explained that this rule of the Ombudsman prevails over provisions of the Rules of Court, which stay execution of penalties for major administrative cases pending resolution of courts of appeals filed by concerned public officials.
“Specialis derogat generali. When two rules apply to a particular case, that (which) was specially designed for the said case must prevail over the other,” it ruled.
The Court cited as basis Article XI Section 13 (
of the Constitution, which authorizes the Office of the Ombudsman to promulgate its own rules of procedure.
It added that Sections 18 and 27 of RA 6770 (Ombudsman Act of 1989) also provide that the Office of the Ombudsman has the power to “promulgate its rules of procedure for the effective exercise or performance of its powers, functions and duties” and to amend or modify its rules as the interest of justice may require.
For this reason, the SC said stopping the implementation of an Ombudsman order would be “encroachment on the rule-making powers of the Ombudsman” on the part of the courts.
“Clearly, Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman supersedes the discretion given to the Court of Appeals in Section 12,  Rule 43 of the Rules of Court when a decision of the Ombudsman in an administrative case is appealed to the CA,” it stressed.
The SC issued this new ruling upon second partial motion for reconsideration on the Samaniego ruling filed by the Ombudsman.
Edu Punay, Philippine Star