There is nothing in RA 7975, however, that would remotely suggest that only the Ombudsman, and not his Deputy, may sign an order preventively suspending officials occupying positions classified as grade 27 or above.
On the other hand, Section 24 of Republic Act No. 6770 9 provides:
Sec. 24. Preventive Suspension. � The Ombudsman or his Deputy may preventively suspend any officer or employee under his authority pending an investigation, if in his judgment, the evidence of guilt is strong. and (a) the charge against such officer or employee involves dishonesty, oppression or gross misconduct, or neglect in the performance of duty; or (b) the charge would warrant removal from the service; or (c) the respondent's continued stay in office may prejudice the case filed against him.
The preventive suspension shall continue until the case is terminated by the Office of the Ombudsman but not more than six months, without pay, except when the delay in the disposition of the case by the Office of the Ombudsman is due to the fault, negligence or petition of the respondent, in which case the period of such delay shall not be counted in computing the period of suspension herein provided. (Emphasis supplied).
Similarly, Section 9, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of Ombudsman 10 provides:
Sec. 9. Preventive suspension. � Pending investigation, the respondent may be preventively suspended without pay for a period of not more than six (6) months, if, in the judgment of the Ombudsman or his proper deputy, the evidence of guilt is strong, and (a) the charge against such officer or employees involves dishonestly, oppression or gross misconduct, or neglect in the performance of duty, (b) the charge would warrant removal from the service, or (c) the respondent's continued stay in office may prejudice the case filed against him.
If the administrative investigation is not terminated within the period the respondent is suspended, the respondent shall be automatically reinstated unless the delay in the disposition of the case is due to the fault, negligence or any cause attributable to the respondent, in which case the period of such delay shall not be counted in computing the period of suspension. (Emphasis supplied.)
Under these provisions, there cannot be any doubt that the Ombudsman or his Deputy may preventively suspend an officer or employee, where appropriate, as indicated by the word "or" between the "Ombudsman" and "his Deputy." The word "or" is a disjunctive term signifying disassociation and independence of one thing from each of the other things enumerated. 11 The law does not require that only the Ombudsman himself may sign the order suspension.
G.R. No. 129952 June 16, 1998
GOVERNOR JOSIE CASTILLO-CO, petitioner,
HONORABLE ROBERT BARBERS, DEPUTY OMBUDSMAN JESUS GUERRERO, EMILIO GONZALES, III and CONGRESSMAN JUNIE CUA, respondents.