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SC Case Digest: 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 Ombudsman’s 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 CA’s directive for the Ombudsman to comment on Binay, Jr.’s petition
for contempt was improper or illegal.

* Whether the Petition filed before the SC, without resorting to the filing of a
motion for reconsideration, was the Ombudsman’s plain, speedy, and
adequate remedy:

In dispensing the First Issue, the SC ruled that the Ombudsman’s 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.)

* Whether the Court of Appeals (“CA”) has subject matter jurisdiction over
the subject matter of the petition:

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 it’s time to update it.

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 that the remedy of Binay, Jr. – the filing of petition for
certiorari pursuant to Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, to assail the
Ombudsman’s 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. It’s 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.

* 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.:

The Third Issue is where it starts to become more interesting.Here, the Ombudsman’s
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 Ombudsman’s
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 SC’s 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 court’s
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 SC’s 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.

* Whether the CA acted in grave abuse of its discretion in issuing said TRO
and WPI:

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.

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 Pascual’s 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 official’s 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 …"

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 Ombudsman’s investigatory and prosecutorial powers.’
Evidently, this fortifies the finding that the case is capable of repetition and must
therefore, not evade review.”

* Whether the CA’s directive for the Ombudsman to comment on Binay, Jr.’s
petition for contempt was improper or illegal.

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 Ombudsman’s claim was premature.