You are on page 1of 5

Carpio Morales v. CA and Binay, Jr. (G.R. No.

217126-27, 10 Nov 2015)


Five (5) issues were discussed in this case, namely:
1. Whether the Petition filed before the SC, without resorting to the filing of a motion for
reconsideration, was the Ombudsmans plain, speedy, and adequate remedy;
2. Whether the Court of Appeals (CA) has subject matter jurisdiction over the subject
matter of the petition;
3. Whether the CA has subject matter jurisdiction to issue a Temporary Restraining Order
(TRO) and/or a Writ of Preliminary Injunction (WPI) enjoining the implementation
of the preventive suspension issued by Ombudsman against Binay, Jr.;
4. Whether the CA acted in grave abuse of its discretion in issuing said TRO and WPI; and
5. Whether the CAs directive for the Ombudsman to comment on Binay, Jr.s petition for
contempt was improper or illegal.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales (Photo credit: inquirer.net)

In dispensing the First Issue, the SC ruled that the Ombudsmans petition falls under the
exceptions that a prior motion for reconsideration must be filed, citing the case of
Republic v. Bayao, G.R. No. 179492, 5 June 2013, which held as follows: (a) where the order
is a patent nullity, as where the court a quo has no jurisdiction; (b) where the questions
raised in the certiorari proceedings have been duly raised and passed upon by the lower
court, or are the same as those raised and passed upon in the lower court; (c) where
there is an urgent necessity for the resolution of the question and any further delay would
prejudice the interests of the Government or of the petitioner or the subject matter of the
action is perishable; (d) where, under the circumstances, a motion for reconsideration
would be useless; (e) where petitioner was deprived of due process and there is extreme
urgency for relief; (f) where, in a criminal case, relief from an order of arrest is urgent
and the granting of such relief by the trial court is improbable; (g) where the
proceedings in the lower court are a nullity for lack of due process; (h) where the
proceedings were ex parte or in which the petitioner had no opportunity to object; and
(i) where the issue raised is one purely of law or where public interest is involved.
(Emphasis supplied on the grounds relied on by the SC in this case, in ruling that no
motion for reconsideration was needed.)
(Score: Ombudsman- 1; Binay, Jr. - 0.)
As to the Second Issue, the discussion revolved around Sec. 14 of Republic Act No. 6770,
otherwise known as the Ombudsman Act (RA 6770), more particularly its 2nd
Paragraph states:
Section 14. Restrictions. No writ of injunction shall be issued by any court to delay an
investigation being conducted by the Ombudsman under this Act, unless there is a prima facie
evidence that the subject matter of the investigation is outside the jurisdiction of the Office of the
Ombudsman.
No court shall hear any appeal orapplication for remedy against the decision or findings of the
Ombudsman, except the Supreme Court, on pure question of law.
Now the SC ruled that the 2nd Paragraph of Sec. 14, RA 6770, is vague, unconstitutional
and invalid. The SC relied on its ruling in the landmark case of Fabian v. Desierto, 356
Phil. 787 (1998), which, in turn, held that the 4th Paragraph of Sec. 27, RA 6770, is void,
as it had the effect of increasing theappellate jurisdiction of the SC without its advice
and concurrence, inviolation of Sec. 30, Art. VI of the 1987 Constitution. This tells us
that lawyers should always be wary of reading RA 6770 since case law has affected itso
much maybe its time to update it.

Senate President Salonga (Photo credit: senate.gov.ph)


Interestingly, the SC mentioned the Senate deliberations cited by the Ombudsman, in
the crafting of RA 6770. It quoted the exchanges between Senators Jovito Salonga,
Edgardo Angara, Teofisto Guingona, Jr., and Neptali Gonzales, which merely led the SC
to be suspicious on whether said Senators were talking about Sec. 14, RA 6670, or some
other provision. In other words, while the throwback was appreciatedby the SC, the
discussions were not really useful in this case.
Regardless, the SC still ruled thatthe remedy of Binay, Jr. the filing of petition for
certiorari pursuant to Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, to assail the Ombudsmans
preventive suspension order was valid, citing the cases of Office of the Ombudsman v.
Capulong, G.R.No. 201643, 12 March 2014, and Dagan v.Office of the Ombudsman, G.R. No.
184083, 19 November 2013. Its just sad that the sorry end of Second Paragraph of Sec. 14,
RA 6770 came as collateral damage in this case. The SC justified its taking up this issue
on its own motion, or ex mero motu, which it canrightfully do, since it is, after all, the SC.
(Score: Ombudsman- 1; Binay, Jr. - 1. Bonus point goes to Sec. 30, Art. VI of the 1987
Constitution)
The Third Issue is where it starts to become more interesting.Here, the Ombudsmans
history was discussed, citing heavily from the case of Gonzales III v. Office of the President,
G.R. No. 196231 and 19232, 28 January 2014 (hereinafter referred to as Gonzales). You
can imagine the Ombudsman smiling from ear to ear while reading this portion, but this
form of flattery should lead one to be suspicious.
What can be picked up from the Gonzales case is that the Office of the Ombudsmans
independence covers thefollowing: (1) it is the creation of the Constitution; (2) it enjoys
fiscalautonomy; and (3) it is insulated from executive supervision and control. Onthis
basis, the SC held that the Ombudsman was meant to be protected frompolitical
harassment and pressure, to free it from the insidious tentacles of politics. (Oh, what
imagery does this give.) Since the SC is apolitical, then Gonzales should not be
interpreted toshield the Ombudsman from the judicial review power of the courts. After
all, there is no politics in the judiciary, right?
After the Ombudsman, it is now the SCs turn to give an exhaustive recap of its own
history. Starting from the definition of Judicial Power, the SC went on the discuss its
expanded scope ofjudicial review enunciated in Oposa v. Factoran, G.R. No. 101083, 30
July 1993, then the evolution of itsrule-making authority in Echegaray v. Secretary of
Justice, 361 Phil. 73 (1999). The SC pointed out that Congress, in relation to RA 6770, has
no authority to repeal, alter, or supplement rules concerning pleading, practice, and
procedure, and rules allowing the issuance of an injunction form part of the courts
inherent power, which (now, citing foreign case law) enable the judiciary to accomplish
itsconstitutionally mandated functions.
The SC ruled that Congress passing of the First Paragraph of Sec. 14, RA 6770, which
prohibits the issuance of an injunction, is an encroachment of the SCs rule-making
authority. An injunction, after all, is merely a provisional and auxiliary relief to preserve
rights in esse. However, the SC noted that it has not consented to this as it has not issued
rules of procedure through an administrative circular. Thus, pending deliberation, the
SC declared the First Paragraph of Sec. 14, RA 6770, as ineffective, until it is adopted as
part of the rules of procedure through an administrative circular duly issued therefor.
Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.
Sec. 14, RA 6770 is now beaten and badly bruised. To sum it up: The Second Paragraph
was declared unconstitutional, and the First Paragraph was now deemed ineffective. As
such,the CA was held to have correctly issued the injunctive relief in enjoining
thepreventive suspension against Binay, Jr.
(Score: Ombudsman- 1; Binay, Jr. - 2.)
The Fourth Issue is where the condonation doctrine was taken up. To go right at it, the
SC abandoned the condonation doctrine, but ruled that the CA did not act in excess of
jurisdiction in issuing the WPI, as it did so based on good case law, considering that the
abandonment is prospective in nature.
In abandoning the condonation doctrine, the SC emphasized that this was a
jurisprudential creation that originated in the 1959 Pascual case, which was decided
under the 1935 Constitution. It is notable that there was no legal precedent on the issue
at that time, and the SC resorted to American authorities. The SC stated what appears
the sole basis forthe condonation doctrine in Pascual, to wit:
The weight of authorities x x x seems to incline toward the rule denying the right to remove one
from office because of misconduct during a prior term, to which we fully subscribe.

Much has happened since the 1935 Constitution. (Photo credit: en.wikipedia.org)
As can be read above, it is clear that no real justification was given for the condonation
doctrine, except that it seems to incline towards American authorities. On this regard,
the SC made its own investigation, and found that there was really no established weight
ofauthorities in the United States (US). In fact, 17 States in the US have already
abandoned the condonation doctrine, as pointed out by the Ombudsman. The SC went
on to adopt the findings of the Ombudsman in US jurisprudence, with the caveat that
said cases are merely guides of interpretation.
Perhaps the greatest victory in this case for the Ombudsman is that it was able to
convince the SC not to adhere to stare decisis, thereby enriching Philippine jurisprudence
on this matter. This is important, as its effects are far-reaching, since we now have
additional basis to petition the abandonment of old ineffective case laws. For this
moment of glory, allow us to quote directly from the case, viz:
Therefore, the ultimate analysis is on whether or not the condonation doctrine, as espoused in
Pascual,and carried over in numerous cases after, can be held up against prevailing legal norms.
Note that the doctrine of stare decisis does not preclude this Court from revisiting existing
doctrine. As adjudged in the case of Belgica, the stare decisis rule should not operate when there
are powerful countervailing considerations against its application. In other words, stare decisis
becomes an intractable rule only when circumstances exist to preclude reversal of standing
precedent. As the Ombudsman correctly points out, jurisprudence, after all, is not a rigid,
atemporal abstraction; it is an organic creature that develops and devolves along with the society
within which it thrives. In the words of a recent US Supreme Court Decision, [w]hat we can
decide, we can undecide.'
In this case, the Court agrees with the Ombudsman that since the time Pascual was decided, the
legal landscape has radically shifted. Again, Pascual was a 1959 case decided under the 1935
Constitution, which dated provisions do not reflect the experience of the Filipino People under
the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions. Therefore, the plain difference in setting, including, of course,
the sheer impact of the condonation doctrine on public accountability, calls for Pascuals
judicious re-examination.
The SC then proceeded to dissect Pascual, and went on to enumerate the notable cases
that applied Pascual, which included cases issued under the 1987 Constitution. Pascual
was tested under existing laws, to see if there exists legislation to support Pascual, e.g.
1987 Constitution, Revised Administrative Code, Code of Conductand Ethical Standards
for Public Officials and Employees, Local Government Code of 1991, and Revised Rules
on Administrative Cases in Civil Service. The SC ruled:
"Reading the 1987 Constitution together with the above-cite legal provisions now leads this
Court to the conclusion that the doctrine of condonation is actually bereft of legal bases.
To begin with, the concept of public office is a public trust and the corollary requirement of
accountability to the people at all times, as mandated under the 1987 Constitution, is plainly
inconsistent with the idea that an elective local officials administrative liability for a misconduct
committed during a prior term can be wiped off by the fact that he was elected to a second term
of office, or even another elective post. Election is not a mode of condoning an administrative
offense,and there is simply no constitutional or statutory basis in our jurisdiction tosupport the
notion that an official elected for a different term is fully absolved of any administrative liability
arising from an offense done during a prior term. In this jurisdiction, liability arising from
administrative offenses may be condoned by the President in light of Section 19, Article VII of
the 1987 Constitution which was interpreted in Llamas v. Orbos to apply to administrative
offenses: xxx "

Office of the Ombudsman (Photo credit: philstar.com)


The SC made it clear that Pascual has no statutory basis at all. By abandoning the
condonation doctrine, the SC would remove this defense oft-times used by elected
officials, of which the SC was aware of, as it made mention of the databrought forward
by the Ombudsman, to wit:
To provide a sample size, the Ombudsman has informed the Court that for the period of July
2013 to December 2014 alone, 85 cases from the Luzon Office and 24 cases from the Central
Office were dismissed on the ground on condonation. Thus, in just one and a half years, over a
hundred cases of alleged misconduct involving infractions such as dishonesty, oppression,
gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct were placed beyond the reach of the Ombudsmans
investigatory and prosecutorial powers. Evidently, this fortifies the finding that the case is
capable of repetition and must therefore, not evade review.

(Score: Ombudsman 2; Binay, Jr. - 2. Bonus point goes to the research team of the
Ombudsman, who painstakingly went through American jurisprudence to support their position.)

The Fifth and Final Issue on whether the order to comment directed to the Ombudsman
was illegal, was refused to be resolved on the ground there are no contempt proceedings
yet. It is the claim of the Ombudsman that since she was an impeachable officer, she
could be subjected to contempt. However, no due course has been given to the contempt
action, thus, the Ombudsmans claim was premature.