Political Law, Remedial Law

OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN v. ERNESTO M. DE CHAVEZ, et al. G.R. No. 172206, July 03, 2013 Rules and Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman (RA 6770), Intervention

FACTS:

The Batangas State University Board of Regents (BSU-BOR) received an Order from the Deputy Ombudsman directing it to enforce OMB’s Joint Decision and Supplemental Resolution finding herein respondents guilty of dishonesty and grave misconduct and imposing the penalty of dismissal from service with its accessory penalties. The BSU-BOR issued Resolution No. 18, implementing the said Order of the OMB. 

Thus, respondents filed a petition for injunction with prayer for issuance of a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction before the RTC against the BSU-BOR to enjoin the enforcement of the Ombudsman’s Joint Decision and Supplemental Resolution.

The RTC dismissed the petition.  

Respondents appealed and promptly filed a Motion for Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Injunction with the CA.  

The CA issued a Resolution granting respondents’ prayer for a temporary restraining order enjoining the BSU-BOR from enforcing its Resolution No. 18.

Thereafter, the OMB filed a Motion to Intervene with the Motion to Recall Temporary Restraining Order.

Respondents opposed said motion and then filed an Urgent Motion for Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction.

The CA issued the Resolution subject of the present petition, concluding that the administrative penalty of dismissal from the service imposed upon appellants is not yet final and immediately executory in view of the appeal interposed by the appellants before the CA.

The CA also denied the Ombudsman’s Motion to Recall the TRO.  On the other hand, appellants’ Urgent Motion for Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction was granted.  

Petitioners then filed a petition for review on certiorari.

 

ISSUE:

  1. Whether or not Office of the Ombudsman has legal interest to intervene in the appeal of its Decision;
  2. Whether or not an appeal from the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman shall stop the decision from being executory.

 

RULING:

1.

The CA should have allowed the Office of the Ombudsman to intervene in the  appeal pending with the lower court. The wisdom of this course of action has been   exhaustively explained in Office of the Ombudsman v. Samaniego. In resolving the issue of whether the Office of the Ombudsman has legal interest to intervene in the appeal of its Decision, the Court ruled:

x x x  the Ombudsman is in a league of its own. It is different from other investigatory and prosecutory agencies of the government because the people under its jurisdiction are public officials who, through pressure and influence, can quash, delay or dismiss investigations directed against them. Its function is critical because public interest (in the accountability of public officers and employees) is at stake.

x x x x

The Office of the Obudsman sufficiently alleged its legal interest in the subject matter of litigation.

It asserted that it is a “competent disciplining body,” and correctly summed up its legal interest in the matter in controversy.

It is true that under our rule on intervention, the allowance or disallowance of a motion to intervene is left to the sound discretion of the court after a consideration of the appropriate circumstances. However, such discretion is not without limitations. One of the limits in the exercise of such discretion is that it must not be exercised in disregard of law and the Constitution. The CA should have considered the nature of the Ombudsman’s powers as provided in the Constitution and RA 6770.

 

2.

x x x  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 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, 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.

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.

From the foregoing elaboration, there can be no cavil that respondents do not have any right to a stay of the Ombudsman’s decision dismissing them from service.  Perforce, the BSU-BOR acted properly in issuing Resolution No. 18, pursuant to the order of the Ombudsman, as its legally-mandated duty.

 

The CA’s Resolution granting respondents’ prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction is patently erroneous.

 

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