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2A Public Officers

Atty. Noel Ostrea


Selected Cases: Law on Public Officers [PART 2]

LAW ON PUBLIC OFFICERS ● The following day or on 23 October 2003, the second
SELECTED CASES [PART 2] impeachment complaint was filed with the Secretary General of
the House by House Representatives against Chief Justice Hilario
1. FRANCISCO VS. HOR G. Davide, Jr., founded on the alleged results of the legislative
inquiry initiated by above-mentioned House Resolution. The
Date: ​November 10, 2003 GR Number:​ 160261 second impeachment complaint was accompanied by a “Resolution
of Endorsement/Impeachment” signed by at least 1/3 of all the
Members of the House of Representatives.
Doctrine
● Various petitions for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus were
There is a constitutional prohibition against the initiation of
filed with the Supreme Court against the House of Representatives,
impeachment proceedings against the same impeachable officer
et. al., most of which petitions contend that the filing of the second
within a one-year period. ​Initiation ​starts with the ​filing ​of the
impeachment complaint is unconstitutional as it violates the
complaint; congress may not promulgate procedural rules that contravene
provision of Section 5 of Article XI of the Constitution that “[n]o
the constitution.
impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same
official more than once within a period of one year.”
ISSUE:
FACTS: 1. Whether or not the offenses alleged in the Second
impeachment complaint constitute valid impeachable offenses
● On 28 November 2001, the 12th Congress of the House of under the Constitution. - POLITICAL QUESTION
Representatives adopted and approved the Rules of Procedure in 2. Whether or not Sections 15 and 16 of Rule V of the Rules
Impeachment Proceedings, superseding the previous House
on Impeachment adopted by the 12th Congress are
Impeachment Rules approved by the 11th Congress.
unconstitutional for violating the provisions of Section 3,
● On 22 July 2002, the House of Representatives adopted a
Article XI of the Constitution. - YES
Resolution, which directed the Committee on Justice “to conduct
3. Whether the second impeachment complaint is barred
an investigation, in aid of legislation, on the manner of
under Section 3(5) of Article XI of the Constitution. - YES
disbursements and expenditures by the Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court of the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF). Is “​Initiate” ​the same as “​to file” - YES
● On 2 June 2003, former President Joseph E. Estrada filed an
impeachment complaint (first impeachment complaint) against 4. W/N judicial review extends to those arising from
Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. and seven Associate Justices of impeachment proceedings - YES
the Supreme Court for “culpable violation of the Constitution,
RULING:
betrayal of the public trust and other high crimes.” The complaint
was endorsed by House Representatives, and was referred to the
1. This issue is a non-justiciable political question which is
House Committee on Justice on 5 August 2003 in accordance with beyond the scope of the judicial power of the Supreme Court
Section 3(2) of Article XI of the Constitution. The House under Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution. Any
Committee on Justice ruled on 13 October 2003 that the first discussion of this issue would require the Court to make a
impeachment complaint was “sufficient in form,” but voted to determination of what constitutes an impeachable offense.
dismiss the same on 22 October 2003 for being insufficient in Such a determination is a purely political question which the
substance. Constitution has left to the sound discretion of the legislation.

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2A Public Officers
Atty. Noel Ostrea
Selected Cases: Law on Public Officers [PART 2]

Such an intent is clear from the deliberations of the complaint filed by Representatives Gilberto C. Teodoro,
Constitutional Commission. Courts will not touch the issue of Jr. and Felix William Fuentebella against the Chief Justice
constitutionality unless it is truly unavoidable and is the very on October 23, 2003 violates the constitutional prohibition
lis mota or crux of the controversy. against the initiation of impeachment proceedings against
2. The Rule of Impeachment adopted by the House of the same impeachable officer within a one-year period.
Congress is unconstitutional. ​Section 3 of Article XI
provides that “The Congress shall promulgate its rules on Hence, Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the Rules of
impeachment to effectively carry out the purpose of this Procedure in Impeachment Proceedings which were approved
section.” Clearly, its power to promulgate its rules on by the House of Representatives on November 28, 2001 are
impeachment is limited by the phrase “to effectively carry out unconstitutional​. Consequently, the second impeachment
the purpose of this section.” Hence, ​these rules cannot complaint against Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. which
contravene the very purpose of the Constitution which was filed by Representatives Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. and
said rules were intended to effectively carry out​. Moreover, Felix William B. Fuentebella with the Office of the Secretary
Section 3 of Article XI clearly provides for other specific General of the House of Representatives on October 23, 2003
limitations on its power to make rules. It is basic that all rules is ​barred under paragraph 5, section 3 of Article XI of the
must not contravene the Constitution which is the fundamental Constitution​.
law. If as alleged Congress had absolute rule making power, Sections 16 and 17 of Rule V of the House
then it would by necessary implication have the power to alter
or amend the meaning of the Constitution without need of Impeachment Rules, impeachment proceedings are deemed
referendum. initiated (1) if there is a finding by the House Committee on
3. Initiation ​starts with the ​filing ​of the complaint, what is Justice that the verified complaint and/or resolution is
actually done on the floor is that the committee resolution sufficient in substance, or (2) once the House itself affirms or
containing the Articles of Impeachment is the one approved overturns the finding of the Committee on Justice that the
by the body. Having concluded that the initiation takes place verified complaint and/or resolution is not sufficient in
by the act of filing of the impeachment complaint and referral substance or (3) by the filing or endorsement before the
to the House Committee on Justice, the initial action taken Secretary-General of the House of Representatives of a
thereon, the meaning of Section 3 (5) of Article XI becomes verified complaint or a resolution of impeachment by at least
clear. ​Not necessary that ⅓ of congress bring it to senate to 1/3 of the members of the House. These rules clearly
be considered “initiated”, filing enough​. Once an contravene Section 3 (5) of Article XI since the rules give the
impeachment complaint has been initiated in the foregoing term “initiate” a meaning different meaning from filing and
manner, another may not be filed against the same official referral​.
within a one year period following Article XI, Section 3(5)
of the Constitution. 4. The exercise of judicial restraint over justiciable issues is not
an option before this Court. Adjudication may not be declined,
Considering that the first impeachment complaint, was filed because this Court is not legally disqualified. Nor can
by former President Estrada against Chief Justice Hilario G. jurisdiction be renounced as there is no other tribunal to which
Davide, Jr., along with seven associate justices of this Court, the controversy may be referred.
on June 2, 2003 and referred to the House Committee on
Justice on August 5, 2003, the second impeachment
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2A Public Officers
Atty. Noel Ostrea
Selected Cases: Law on Public Officers [PART 2]

Committee on Justice from proceeding with the impeachment


Assigned: Asia Wy
proceedings. The petition prayed for a temporary restraining order.
● The following day, the Court En Banc RESOLVED to direct the
2. GUTIERREZ VS. HOR-COJ issuance of a ​status quo ante ​order.
● Section 3(5), Article XI of the 1987 Constitution provides that ​"no
Date: ​February 15, 2011 GR Number:​ 193459 impeachment proceedings shall be initiated against the same
official more than once within a period of one year​."
Doctrine:​There are two components of the act of initiating the
ISSUE:
complaint: the ​filing ​of the impeachment complaint ​AND the r​eferral ​by
the House Plenary to the Committee on Justice. Once an impeachment
1. Whether the case presents a justiciable controversy? - YES
complaint has been initiated, another impeachment complaint ​may not
2. Whether the belated publication of the Rules of Procedure of
be filed against the same official within a one year period. ​Therefore,
Impeachment Proceedings of the 15​th Congress denied due process
the one-year period ban is reckoned not from the filing of the first
to the Petitioner? - NO
complaint, but on the date it is referred to the House Committee on
3. Whether the simultaneous referral of the two complaints violated
Justice.
the one year bar rule in the Constitution? - NO

FACTS: RULING:

● On 22 July 2010, Baraquel Group ​filed an impeachment complaint WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. The assailed Resolutions of
(First Complaint) against Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas N. September 1, 2010 and September 7, 2010 of public respondent, the House
Gutierrez based on betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of Representatives Committee on Justice, are NOT
of the Constitution. UNCONSTITUTIONAL. The Status Quo Ante Order issued by the Court
● On 3 August 2010, the Reyes Group filed an impeachment on September 14, 2010 is LIFTED.
complaint (Second Complaint) against Gutierrez also based on
betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution. ● FIRST ISSUE: ​YES, under the doctrine of expanded judicial
● On 11 August 2010, the two complaints were ​referred ​by the review. The Constitution did not intend to leave the matter of
House Plenary to the Committee on Justice ​at the same time. impeachment to the sole discretion of Congress. Instead, it
● On 1 September 2010, the Committee on Justice found the First provided for certain well-defined limits, or in the language of
and Second Complaints sufficient in form. Baker v. Carr​, "judicially discoverable standards" for determining
● On September 2 2010, The Rules of Procedure of Impeachment the validity of the exercise of such discretion, through the power of
Proceedings of the 15​th​ Congress was published. judicial review.
● On 7 September 2010, the Committee on Justice, found the First ● There exists no constitutional basis for the contention that the
and Second Complaints were sufficient in substance. Petitioner exercise of judicial review over impeachment proceedings would
was served a notice directing her to file an answer to the upset the system of checks and balances. Verily, the Constitution is
complaints within 10 days. to be interpreted as a whole and "one section is not to be allowed
● On 13 September 2010, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari and to defeat another." Both are integral components of the calibrated
prohibition before the Supreme Court seeking to enjoin the system of independence and interdependence that insures that no
branch of government act beyond the powers assigned to it by the
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2A Public Officers
Atty. Noel Ostrea
Selected Cases: Law on Public Officers [PART 2]

Constitution. Indubitably, the Court is not asserting its ascendancy promulgation​. The Court is in no position to dictate a mode of
over the Legislature in this instance, but simply upholding the promulgation beyond the dictates of the Constitution.
supremacy of the Constitution as the repository of the sovereign ● Inquiries ​in aid of legislation under Section 21, Article VI of the
will. Constitution is the ​sole instance in the Constitution where there is a
● However, the SC may not look into the narration of facts categorical directive​ to d​ uly publish a set of rules of procedure​.
constitutive of the offenses vis-à-vis petitioner’s submissions ● Given that the Constitution itself states that any promulgation of
disclaiming the allegations in the complaints. To require the Court the rules on impeachment is aimed at "​effectively carry[ing] out
to make a determination of what constitutes an impeachable the purpose​" of impeachment proceedings, the Court finds no
offense is a purely political question which the Constitution has grave abuse of discretion when the House deemed it proper to
left to the sound discretion of the legislature. provisionally adopt the Rules on Impeachment of the 14th
Congress, to meet the exigency in such situation of early filing and
● SECOND ISSUE: NO. The Supreme Court discussed the in keeping with the "effective" implementation of the "purpose" of
difference between ​publication and promulgation. the impeachment provisions. In other words, the provisional
● To recall, days after the 15th Congress opened on July 26, 2010 or adoption of the previous Congress’ Impeachment Rules is within
on August 3, 2010, public respondent provisionally adopted the the power of the House to promulgate its rules on impeachment to
Impeachment Rules of the 14th Congress and thereafter published effectively carry out the avowed purpose.
on September 2, 2010 its Impeachment Rules, admittedly ● Moreover, the rules on impeachment, as contemplated by the
substantially identical with that of the 14th Congress, in two framers of the Constitution, merely aid or supplement the
newspapers of general circulation. procedural aspects of impeachment. Being procedural in nature,
● To appreciate the statutory difference in the usage of the terms they may be given retroactive application to pending actions. The
"promulgate" and "publish," the case of the Judiciary is in point. In retroactive application of procedural laws does not violate any
promulgating rules concerning the protection and enforcement of right of a person who may feel that he is adversely affected, nor is
constitutional rights, pleading, practice and procedure in all courts, it constitutionally objectionable. The reason for this is that, as a
the Supreme Court has invariably required the publication of these general rule, no vested right may attach to, nor arise from,
rules for their effectivity. As far as promulgation of judgments is procedural laws." In the present case, ​petitioner fails to allege any
concerned, however, PROMULGATION ​means "the delivery of impairment of vested rights​. It bears stressing that, unlike the
the decision to the clerk of court for filing and publication​. process of inquiry ​in aid of legislation where the rights of
● Promulgation must thus be used in the context in which it is witnesses are involved, impeachment is primarily for the
generally understood—that is, to make known. Since the protection of the people as a body politic, and not for the
Constitutional Commission did not restrict "promulgation" to punishment of the offender.
"publication," the former should be understood to have been used
in its general sense. It is within the discretion of Congress to ● THIRD ISSUE:​ NO. The one-year bar rule was not violated.
determine on how to promulgate its Impeachment Rules, in much ● Petitioner contends that the start of the one-year bar is the ​filing of
the same way that the Judiciary is permitted to determine that to the first impeachment complaint against her on July 22, 2010 or
promulgate a decision means to deliver the decision to the clerk of four days before the opening on July 26, 2010 of the 15th
court for filing and publication. It is not for the Supreme Court to Congress. She posits that within one year from July 22, 2010, no
tell a co-equal branch of government how to promulgate ​when the second impeachment complaint may be accepted and referred to
Constitution itself has not prescribed a specific method of public respondent.

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2A Public Officers
Atty. Noel Ostrea
Selected Cases: Law on Public Officers [PART 2]

● There are two components of the act of initiating the complaint:


Doctrine
the ​filing ​of the impeachment complaint ​AND the r​eferral ​by the
Mandatory preventive suspension as stated in RA 3019; rationale -
House Plenary to the Committee on Justice. Once an impeachment
The presumption is that unless the accused is suspended he may frustrate
complaint has been initiated, another impeachment complaint ​may
his prosecution or commit further acts of malfeasance or do both, in the
not be filed against the same official within a one year
same way that upon a finding that there is probable cause to believe that a
period.​Therefore, ​the one-year period ban is reckoned not from the
crime has been committed and that the accused is probably guilty thereof,
filing of the first complaint, but on the date it is referred to the
the law requires the judge to issue a warrant for the arrest of the accused.
House Committee on Justice.
The law does not require the court to determine whether the accused is
● Further, The Constitution states that "a verified complaint for
likely to escape or evade the jurisdiction of the court.
impeachment may be filed by any Member of the House of
Representatives or by any citizen upon a resolution or endorsement
by any Member thereof, which shall be included in the Order of FACTS:
Business ​within ten session days​, and referred to the proper ● Antonio M. Bolastig is governor of Samar. On August 31, 1989, an
Committee ​within three session days thereafter​." information was filed against him and two others for alleged
● In the present case, petitioner failed to establish grave abuse of overpricing of 100 reams of onion skin paper in violation of the
discretion on the allegedly "belated" referral of the first Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019)
impeachment complaint filed by the Baraquel group. For while the ● ANTONIO M. BOLASTIG, PEDRO ASON and PRUDENCIO
said complaint was filed on July 22, 2010, there was yet then no MACABENTA, all public officers, duly appointed and qualified as
session in Congress. It was only four days later or on July 26, 2010 such, being the OIC Governor, Provincial Treasurer and Property
that the 15th Congress opened from which date the 10-day session Officer respectively, all of the Province of Samar, and being members
period started to run. When, by Memorandum of August 2, 2010, of Bids and Awards Committee responsible for the purchase of office
Speaker Belmonte directed the Committee on Rules to include the supplies for the Provincial Government of Samar and while in the
complaint in its Order of Business, it was well within the said performance of their respective positions, confederating and mutually
10-day session period. helping one another and through manifest partiality and evident bad
● INITIATIVE: ​Filing of impeachment complaint coupled with faith, enter into a purchase contract with REYNALDO
Congress’ taking initial action of said complaint (referral of the ESPARAGUERRA, for the purchase of (100) reams of Onion Skin at
complaint to the Committee on Justice) price of P550.00 or a total price of P55,000.00, which contract was
● IMPEACH: ​to file the case before the Senate manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the government as the
● Rationale of the one-year bar: “​that the purpose of the one-year bar prevailing unit price for said item was only Fifty-Five Pesos (P55.00)
is two-fold: 1)”to prevent undue or too frequent harassment; and 2) or a total price of Five Thousand Five Hundred Pesos (P5,500.00),
to allow the legislature to do its principal task of legislation,” thereby causing undue injury to the government in the total amount of
Forty-Nine Thousand Five Hundred Pesos (P49,500.00).
● Bolastig was arraigned
Assigned: Christine Leong
● Special Prosecution Officer III Wilfredo Orencia moved for petitioner's
suspension, citing sec. 13 of Republic Act No. 3019 incumbent public
3. BOLASTIG VS. SANDIGANBAYAN officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid
information under this Act or under Title 7, Book II of the Revised
Date: ​Aug. 4, 1994 GR Number:​ 110503 Penal Code or for any offense involving fraud upon government or
public funds or property, whether as a simple or as a complex offense
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2A Public Officers
Atty. Noel Ostrea
Selected Cases: Law on Public Officers [PART 2]

and in whatever stage of execution and mode of participatio​n, is suspension of the respondent who is not a presidential appointee, the
pending in court, shall be suspended from office. respondent shall be automatically reinstated in the service
● Bolastig opposes this suspension ● The duration of preventive suspension is thus coeval with the period
● SB rejected petitioner's argument and ordered the suspension of prescribed for deciding administrative disciplinary cases. If the case is
petitioner from office for a period of 90 days saying that RA 3019 decided before ninety days, then the suspension will last less than
makes it mandatory to make preventive suspension. ninety days, but if the case is not decided within ninety days, then the
● Bolastig appealed this to SC alleging SB committed a grave abuse of its preventive suspension must be up to ninety days only.
discretion in issuing its resolution ● The duration of preventive suspension will, therefore, vary to the extent
● a) despite the failure of the prosecution to show any public interest to that it is contingent on the time it takes the court to decide the case but
be served, or injury to be prevented, or any other compelling factual not on account of any discretion lodged in the court, taking into account
circumstance which justifies the preventive suspension of petitioner; the probability that the accused may use his office to hamper his
and prosecution.
● (b) despite the injury not only upon petitioner but also upon the people ● The fact is that the possibility that the accused would intimidate
of Samar whose political rights are trenched upon by the suspension for witnesses or otherwise hamper his prosecution is just one of the
no valid reason of their duly elected Governor grounds for preventive suspension. The other one is, as already stated,
to prevent the accused from committing further acts of malfeasance
ISSUE: while in office.
● Finally, the fact that petitioner's preventive suspension may deprive the
WON the preventive suspension is mandatory as in pending court case as in people of Samar of the services of an official elected by them, at least
the case of Bolastig? temporarily, is not a sufficient basis for reducing what is otherwise a
mandatory period prescribed by law. The vice governor, who has
RULING: Yes. Bolastig's petition has no merit. likewise been elected by them, will act as governor

For the foregoing reasons, we hold that in ordering the preventive


Assigned: Albert Bundalian
suspension of petitioner, the Sandiganbayan acted according to law.

It is now settled that sec. 13 of Republic Act No. 3019 makes it mandatory 4. GONZALES VS. OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
for the Sandiganbayan to suspend any public officer against whom a valid
information charging violation of that law, Book II, Title 7 of the Revised Date: ​January 28, 2014 GR Number:​ 196231
Penal Code, or any offense involving fraud upon government or public
funds or property is filed. ​The court trying a case has neither discretion
Doctrine
nor duty to determine whether preventive suspension is required to
prevent the accused from using his office to intimidate witnesses or
Subjecting the Deputy Ombudsman to discipline and removal by the
frustrate his prosecution or continue committing malfeasance in office.
President​, whose own alter egos and officials in the Executive
● The 90 days is lifted from sec. 42 of the Civil Service Decree (P.D. No.
Department are subject to the Ombudsman’s disciplinary authority,
807), ​which is now sec. 52 of the Administrative Code of 1987 when
cannot but seriously place at risk the independence of the Office of
the administrative case against the officer or employee under
the Ombudsman itself​.
preventive suspension is not finally decided by the disciplining
authority within the period of ninety (90) days after the date of
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2A Public Officers
Atty. Noel Ostrea
Selected Cases: Law on Public Officers [PART 2]

FACTS: Ombudsman and Gonzales were accountable for the gross negligence
and grave misconduct in handling the case against Mendoza since the
● This is to resolve the motion for reconsideration filed by the Office of failed to promptly resolve Mendoza’s motion for reconsideration
the President on the decision of the court which ruled on the petition of ● On October 12, 2010, Gonzales was formally charged before the Office
Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzales III and Special Prosecutor of the President(OP) for Gross Neglect of Duty and/or Inefficiency in
Wendell Barreras Sulit. The court in its previous decision upheld the the Performance of Official Duty and for Misconduct in Office.
constitutionality of RA 6770 (An Act Providing For The Functional ● The Office of the President found Gonzales guilty and dismissed him
And Structural Organization Of The Office Of The Ombudsman, And from service. However, Gonzales posited that under Section 21 or R.A.
For Other Purposes), reversed the OP ruling that Gonzales was guilty 6770, it is the Ombudsman who exercises administrative disciplinary
of Gross Negligence of Duty, and asked for the continuation of the jurisdiction over the Deputy Ombudsman. Furthermore, he acted on the
proceedings against Sulit. draft order only within 9 calendar days from his receipt of the order.

​Gonzales’ Petition​: Sulit’s Petition


● There were 2 different charges against Senior Inspector Rolando ● The Office of the Ombudsman drew public outrage when they entered
Mendoza Gonzales, et al. The first one was filed with the Manila City into a plea-bargaining agreement with Major General Carlos Garcia,
Prosecutors Office and he was charged for robbery, grave threat, who was charged, before the Sandiganbayan, with plunder and money
robbery extortion, and physical injury. The second complaint was filed laundering.
with the NAPOLCOM PNP-NCRPO. This prompted Gonzales, who ● This prompted the Committee on Justice of the House of
was the Deputy Ombudsman for Military and Other Law Enforcement Representatives to conduct an investigation.
Officers (MOLEO), to direct NAPOLCOM to turn over the records of ● The Committee found that Sulit, her deputies and assistants committed
the case to his office. culpable violations of the constitution and recommended to the
● On October 30, 2009, Mendoza et al. received a copy of the President that they be removed from service.
Ombudsman decision stating that they were guilty of grave misconduct
and imposed a penalty of dismissal from service. Mendoza, et al. filed ISSUE:
a Motion for Reconsideration. 1. Is Section 8 (2) of RA 67701 unconstitutional with respect to the
● On December 10, 2009, all the records of the case were forwarded to (1) Office of the Ombudsman; and, (2) Office of the Special
the Criminal Investigation and Administrative Bureau-MOLEO. It was Prosecutor?
assigned to Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer (GIPO) Dennis
Garcia. Thereafter, the draft order by Garcia was transferred to his RULING:
superiors for them to review and approve the same. On April 27, 2010,
the draft order was transmitted to the office of Gonzales. Then on May (1) Yes, it is unconstitutional with respect to the Office of the
6, 2010 (9 days after his receipt of the draft order), Gonzales sent the Ombudsman.
order and records of the case to the Office of the Ombudsman.
● On August 23, 2010, pending the final action of the Ombudsman,
1
Mendoza hijacked a tourist bus and held 21 tourists (Hong Kong ​Section 8. ​Removal; Filling of Vacancy​.​ —
XXX
Nationals) as hostages. This incident resulted in the deaths of Mendoza
and several tourists. (2) A Deputy or the Special Prosecutor, may be removed from office by the President for any
● President Aquino created an incident and investigation committee of the grounds provided for the removal of the Ombudsman, and after due process.
composed of the DOJ and DILG. In their report, they stated that the
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2A Public Officers
Atty. Noel Ostrea
Selected Cases: Law on Public Officers [PART 2]

(2) No, it is not unconstitutional with respect to the Office of the subsidiaries, except over officials who may be removed
Special Prosecutor. only by impeachment or over Members of Congress, and
the Judiciary.
Summary of Votes ● Its independence was expressly and constitutionally guaranteed. They
do not owe their existence to any act of Congress. This was also shown
‘‘In the voting held on January 28, 2014, by a vote of 8-7,​the Court during the constitutional deliberations when the framers of the
resolved to reverse its September 4, 2012 Decision insofar as petitioner constitution intended that the Constitutional Commissions should be
Gonzales is concerned (G.R. No. 196231). ​We declared Section 8(2) of independent of executive control or supervision or any form of political
RA No. 6770 unconstitutional by granting disciplinary jurisdiction to influence.
the President over a Deputy Ombudsman​, in violation of the ● Furthermore, ​subjecting the Deputy Ombudsman to discipline and
independence of the Office of the Ombudsman. removal by the President,​whose own alter egos and officials in the
Executive Department are subject to the Ombudsman’s disciplinary
However, ​by another vote of 8-7, ​the Court resolved ​to maintain the authority​, cannot but seriously place at risk the independence of the
validity of Section 8(2) of RA No. 6770 insofar as Sulit is concerned. ​The Office of the Ombudsman itself. The Ombudsman can hardly be
Court did not consider the Office of the Special Prosecutor to be expected to place her complete trust in her subordinate officials
constitutionally within the Office of the Ombudsman and is, hence, not who are not as independent as she is, if only because they are
entitled to the independence the latter enjoys under the Constitution.’’ subject to pressures and controls external to her Office.
● Congress is empowered to determine the modes of removal from office
On the Issue of Constitutionality of ​Section 8(2) of RA No. 6770 of all public officers and employees, but this ​must still be consistent
with constitutional guarantees and principles​, namely: the right to
● In the 1987 Constitution a new office of the Ombudsman was created procedural and substantive due process; the constitutional guarantee of
by constitutional fiat. Its objectives are to enforce the state policy in security of tenure; the principle of separation of powers; and the
Section 27, Article 2 and the standard of accountability in public principle of checks and balances.
service under Section 1, Article XI.
● This constitutional vision of a Philippine Ombudsman practically On the Dismissal of Deputy Ombudsman Gonzales
intends to make the Ombudsman an authority to directly check and ● In the case of public officials, there is gross negligence when a breach
guard against the ills, abuses and excesses of the bureaucracy. The of duty is flagrant and palpable. Gonzales cannot be guilty of gross
Ombudsman’s broad investigative power ​includes all acts of neglect of duty and/or inefficiency since he acted on the case forwarded
malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance of all public officials, to him within 9 days.​the ​OP relied on Section 8, Rule III of
including Members of the Cabinet and Executive Officers. Section Administrative Order No. 7 (or the Rules of Procedure of the Office of
21 of RA No. 6770 provides: the Ombudsman, series of 1990, as amended) in ruling that Gonzales
should have acted on Mendoza’s Motion for Reconsideration within
Section 21. Official Subject to Disciplinary Authority; five days:
Exceptions. — The Office of the Ombudsman shall ‘’Section 8. Motion for reconsideration or
have disciplinary authority over all elective and reinvestigation: Grounds – Whenever allowable, a
appointive officials of the Government and its motion for reconsideration or reinvestigation may only
subdivisions, instrumentalities and agencies, including be entertained if filed within ten (10) days from receipt
Members of the Cabinet, local government,
government-owned or controlled corporations and their
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2A Public Officers
Atty. Noel Ostrea
Selected Cases: Law on Public Officers [PART 2]

of the decision or order by the party on the basis of any


of the following grounds:
a) New evidence had been discovered which materially
affects the order, directive or decision;
b) Grave errors of facts or laws or serious irregularities
have been committed prejudicial to the interest of the
movant.’’
● Even if the period is mandatory, it cannot apply to Gonzales because
he is a deputy Ombudsman whose obligation is to review the case​.
He is not a hearing officer. Also, ​the period does not include the
time covered in reviewing the motion​.

The case of Special Prosecutor Sulit


● It appears that based on legislative history and the present overall legal
structure of the Office of the Ombudsman, the unconstitutionality of
Section 8 (2) of RA 6770 must also apply to the Special Prosecutor.
● Congress recognized the importance of the Special Prosecutor as a
necessary adjunct of the Ombudsman, aside from his or her deputies,
by making the Office of the Special Prosecutor an organic component
of the Office of the Ombudsman and by granting the Ombudsman
control and supervision over that office.
● Thus, even if the Office of the Special Prosecutor is not expressly made
part of the composition of the Office of the Ombudsman, the role it
performs as an organic component of that Office militates against a
differential treatment between the Ombudsman’s Deputies.
● Notwithstanding the above discussion, court maintained the validity of
the law in the case of the Special Prosecutor, through a vote of 8-7.

Assigned: Steph Yarte