Jo-Anne Monique D.

Coloquio


Art 11- Sec 13: Powers and Responsibilities of Ombudsman; Deputies
Chavez v. Judicial and Bar Council
September 21, 1993
Petition: Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction or Temporary
Restraining Order, seeking to nullify the Order of the Ombudsman on January 7, 1992, directing preventive suspension
of petitioners, Dr. Brigida Buenaseda, Isabelo Banez, Jr., Conrado Matias, Cora Solis and Enya Lopez. It also seeks to
disqualify Director Raul Arnaw and Investigator Amy de Villa-Rosero from participation in the preliminary
investigation of the charges against petitioner.
Facts:
The NCMH Nurses Association filed a case of graft and corruption against Dr. Buenaseda and other government
officials of the DOH in 1992. The Ombudsman ordered the suspension of Buenaseda and the other officials. The
suspension was carried on by then DOH Secretary Flavier, being the officer in charge over the officials, including
Buenaseda. Buenaseda and the other officials then filed with the SC a petition for certiorari, prohibition, and
mandamus, questioning their suspension. NCMH submitted its Comment seeking for a Motion for Disbarment against
the lawyers of Buenaseda and the other officials. The lawyers of Buenaseda and the other officials advised them not to
obey the suspension order, which is a lawful order from a duly constituted authority. NCMH maintains that such advice
from the lawyers constitute a violation against the Code of Professional Responsibility.
The Solicitor General, agreed with Buenaseda’s lawyers contending that all the Ombudsman can do is to recommend
suspensions and he cannot impose them. He based this on Art 11 Sec 13 of the 1987 Constitution which provides that the
Office of the Ombudsman shall have the power to “Direct the officer concerned to take appropriate action against a
public official or employee at fault, and recommend his removal, suspension, demotion, fine, censure, or prosecution,
and ensure compliance therewith.” Basing it on the provision the Solicitor-general emphasizes that it clearly states that
the Ombudsman can only recommend.

Issue/s:
WON the Ombudsman has the power to suspend government officials and employees working in offices other than the
Office of the Ombudsman, pending the investigation of the administrative complaints filed against said officials and
employees and WON the Ombudsman acted with grave abuse of discretion
Ruling:
Wherefore, petition was DISMISSED and the status quo ordered to be maintained in the Resolution
dated September 22, 1992 is LIFTED and SET ASIDE.

The court ruled that the Ombudsman may impose suspension orders. The power “to recommend the suspension” of a
public official or employees vested by the Constitution to the Ombudsman is referred to as a punitive measure. Sec 24
of RA 6770, granting the Ombudsman the power to preventively suspend public officials and employees facing
administrative charges before him, is a procedural statute. It stated that preventive suspension is imposed after
compliance with the requisites as an aid in the investigation of administrative charges. It is expressed in
the Constitution that Ombudsman is authorized to recommend to the appropriate official the discipline or prosecution
of erring public officials or employees with regard to this task, the Ombudsman has to investigate so he may need to
suspend the respondent. The Ombudsman should be given the discretion to decide when the person should be
preventively suspended. The SC clarifies that what the Ombudsman issued is an order of preventive suspension pending
the resolution of the case or investigation. It is not imposing suspension as a penalty. What the Constitution
contemplates that the Ombudsman may recommend are punitive suspensions. With regard to the issue of the Motion
for Disbarment filed with the Ombudsman, the court ruled that it is not proper. It cannot be filed in this special civil
action which is confined to questions of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion. There is a set of procedure for the
discipline of members of the bar separate and apart from the present special civil action. However, the lawyers of
Buenaseda were reminded not be carried away in pursuing the case. A lawyer must be respectful and restrained in
keeping with the dignity of the legal profession and with his behavioral attitude toward his fellow lawyers.
Jo-Anne Monique D. Coloquio


The court also ruled that the Ombudsman did not act with grave abuse of discretion for the questioned order of the
Ombudsman was validly issued even without a full-blown hearing and formal presentation of evidence since it was a
mere order for preventive suspension. The Ombudsman issued the order of preventive suspension only after petitioners
had filed their answer to the administrative complaint including the motion for preventive suspension of petitioners,
which incorporated the charges in the criminal complaint against them, private respondents had filed a reply specifying
cases of harassment by petitioners to private respondents and preliminary conference wherein the complaint and the
respondents in the administrative case agreed to submit their list of witnesses and documentary evidence.