In light of the Ombudsman’s dismissal order of February 4, 2010, any question relating to the legality and propriety of the subpoena duces tecum the Ombudsman issued has been rendered moot and academic. The subpoena duces tecum merely drew its life and continued viability from the underlying criminal complaint, and the complaint’s dismissal – belated though it may be – cannot but have the effect of rendering the need for the subpoena duces tecum academic.
As guide in the issuance of compulsory processes to Members of this Court, past and present, in relation to complaints touching on the exercise of our judicial functions, we deem it appropriate to discuss for the record the extent of the Ombudsman’s authority in these types of complaints.
In the appropriate case, the Office of the Ombudsman has full authority to issue subpoenas, including subpoena duces tecum, for compulsory attendance of witnesses and the production of documents and information relating to matters under its investigation. The grant of this authority, however, is not unlimited, as the Ombudsman must necessarily observe and abide by the terms of the Constitution and our laws, the Rules of Court and the applicable jurisprudence on the issuance, service, validity and efficacy of subpoenas. Under the Rules of Court, the issuance of subpoenas, including a subpoena duces tecum, operates under the requirements of reasonableness and relevance. For the production of documents to be reasonable and for the documents themselves to be relevant, the matter under inquiry should, in the first place, be one that the Ombudsman can legitimately entertain, investigate and rule upon.