The decision of the Ombudsman in administrative case is immediately executory pending appeal and may not be stayed by the filing of an appeal or the issuance of an injunctive writ

The issue of whether or not an appeal of the Ombudsman decision in an administrative case carries with it the immediate suspension of the imposed penalty has been laid to rest in the recent resolution of the case of Ombudsman v. Samaniego,[33] where this Court held that the decision of the Ombudsman is immediately executory pending appeal and may not be stayed by the filing of an appeal or the issuance of an injunctive writ, to wit:

Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman,[34] as amended by Administrative Order No. 17 datedSeptember 15, 2003, provides:

SEC. 7. Finality and execution of decision. – Where the respondent is absolved of the charge, and in case of conviction where the penalty imposed is public censure or reprimand, suspension of not more than one month, or a fine equivalent to one month salary, the decision shall be final, executory and unappealable. In all other cases, the decision may be appealed to the Court of Appeals on a verified petition for review under the requirements and conditions set forth in Rule 43 of the Rules of Court, within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the written Notice of the Decision or Order denying the motion for reconsideration.

An appeal shall not stop the decision from being executory. 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.

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. [Emphases supplied]

The Ombudsman’s decision imposing the penalty of suspension for one year is immediately executory pending appeal.[35] It cannot be stayed by the mere filing of an appeal to the CA. This rule is similar to that provided under Section 47 of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service.

In the case of In the Matter to Declare in Contempt of Court Hon. Simeon A. Datumanong, Secretary of the DPWH,[36] we held:

The Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman are clearly procedural and no vested right of the petitioner is violated as he is considered preventively suspended while his case is on appeal. Moreover, in the event he wins on appeal, he shall be paid the salary and such other emoluments that he did not receive by reason of the suspension or removal. Besides, there is no such thing as a vested interest in an office, or even an absolute right to hold office. Excepting constitutional offices which provide for special immunity as regards salary and tenure, no one can be said to have any vested right in an office.

Following the ruling in the above cited case, this Court, in Buencamino v. Court of Appeals,[37] upheld the resolution of the CA denying Buencamino’s application for preliminary injunction against the immediate implementation of the suspension order against him. The Court stated therein that the CA did not commit grave abuse of discretion in denying petitioner’s application for injunctive relief because Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman was amended by Administrative Order No. 17 datedSeptember 15, 2003.

Respondent cannot successfully rely on Section 12, Rule 43 of the Rules of Court which provides:

SEC. 12. Effect of appeal ― The appeal shall not stay the award, judgment, final order or resolution sought to be reviewed unless the Court of Appeals shall direct otherwise upon such terms as it may deem just.

In the first place, the Rules of Court may apply to cases in the Office of the Ombudsman suppletorily only when the procedural matter is not governed by any specific provision in the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman.[38] Here, Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman, as amended, is categorical, an appeal shall not stop the decision from being executory.

Moreover, Section 13 (8), Article XI of the Constitution authorizes the Office of the Ombudsman to promulgate its own rules of procedure. In this connection, Sections 18 and 27 of the Ombudsman Act of 1989[39] 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 the CA to issue a preliminary injunction that will stay the penalty imposed by the Ombudsman in an administrative case would be to encroach on the rule-making powers of the Office of the Ombudsman under the Constitution and RA 6770 as the injunctive writ will render nugatory the provisions of Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman.

Clearly, Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman supersedes the discretion given to the CA in Section 12,[40] Rule 43 of the Rules of Court when a decision of the Ombudsman in an administrative case is appealed to the CA. The provision in the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman that a decision is immediately executory is a special rule that prevails over the provisions of the Rules of Court. 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.[41] [Emphases supplied]

Thus, Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman, as amended by Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 17, is categorical in providing that an appeal shall not stop an Ombudsman decision from being executory. This rule applies to the appealable decisions of the Ombudsman, namely, those where the penalty imposed is other than public censure or reprimand, or a penalty of suspension of more than one month, or a fine equivalent to more than one month’s salary. Hence, the dismissal of De Jesus and Parungao from the government service is immediately executory pending appeal.

The aforementioned Section 7 is also clear in providing that in case the penalty is removal and the respondent wins his 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 removal.  As explained above, there is no such thing as a vested interest in an office, or an absolute right to hold office, except constitutional offices with special provisions on salary and tenure. The Rules of Procedure of the Ombudsman being procedural, no vested right of De Jesus and Parungao would be violated as they would be considered under preventive suspension, and entitled to the salary and emoluments they did not receive in the event that they would win their appeal.

The ratiocination above also clarifies the application of Rule 43 of the Rules of Court in relation to Section 7 of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman. The CA, even on terms it may deem just, has no discretion to stay a decision of the Ombudsman, as such procedural matter is governed specifically by the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman.

The CA’s issuance of a preliminary mandatory injunction, staying the penalty of dismissal imposed by the Ombudsman in this administrative case, is thus an encroachment on the rule-making powers of the Ombudsman under Section 13 (8), Article XI of the Constitution, and Sections 18 and 27 of R.A. No. 6770, which grants the Office of the Ombudsman the authority to promulgate its own rules of procedure. The issuance of an injunctive writ renders nugatory the provisions of Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman.

The CA, however, cannot be blamed for so ruling because at that time the Court’s rulings were not definite and, thus, nebulous.  There were no clear-cut guidelines yet.  Even the initial ruling in Samaniego on September 11, 2008, stated in effect that the mere filing by a respondent of an appeal sufficed to stay the execution of the joint decision against him.  The Samaniego initial ruling merely followed that in the case of Office of the Ombudsman v. Laja,[42] where it was stated:

[O]nly 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. In all other disciplinary cases where the penalty imposed is other than public censure, reprimand, or suspension of not more than one month, or a fine not equivalent to one month salary, the law gives the respondent the right to appeal. In these cases, the order, directive or decision becomes final and executory only after the lapse of the period to appeal if no appeal is perfected, or after the denial of the appeal from the said order, directive or decision. It is only then that execution shall perforce issue as a matter of right. The fact that the Ombudsman Act gives parties the right to appeal from its decisions should generally carry with it the stay of these decisions pending appeal. Otherwise, the essential nature of these judgments as being appealable would be rendered nugatory. [Emphasis in the original].

Having ruled that the decisions of the Ombudsman are immediately executory pending appeal, The Court finds it unncessary to determine whether or not Facura and Tuason were heard before the issuance of the writ of preliminary mandatory injunction.

http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2011/february2011/166495.htm

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About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
This entry was posted in Administrative Law, Injunctive Writ, Ombudsman and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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