Sunday, October 14, 2012

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OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN, PETITIONER,
VS.
ULDARICO P. ANDUTAN, JR., RESPONDENT
[ G.R. No. 164679, July 27, 2011 ]

Fact of the Case:

          Andutan was formerly the Deputy Director of the One-Stop Shop Tax Credit and Duty Drawback Center of the Department of Finance (DOF).  On June 30, 1998, then Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora issued a Memorandum directing all non-career officials or those occupying political positions to vacate their positions effective July 1, 1998. On July 1, 1998, pursuant to the Memorandum, Andutan resigned from the DOF.

On September 1, 1999, Andutan, together with Antonio P. Belicena, former Undersecretary, DOF; Rowena P. Malonzo, Tax Specialist I, DOF; Benjamin O. Yao, Chairman and Executive Officer, Steel Asia Manufacturing Corporation (Steel Asia); Augustus S. Lapid, Vice-President, Steel Asia; Antonio M. Lorenzana, President and Chief Operating Officer, Steel Asia; and Eulogio L. Reyes, General Manager, Devmark Textiles Ind. Inc., was criminally charged by the Fact Finding and Intelligence Bureau (FFIB) of the Ombudsman with Estafa through Falsification of Public Documents, and violations of Section 3(a), (e) and (j) of Republic Act No. (R.A.) 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.  As government employees, Andutan, Belicena and Malonzo were likewise administratively charged of Grave Misconduct, Dishonesty, Falsification of Official Documents and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service.

The criminal and administrative charges arose from anomalies in the illegal transfer of Tax Credit Certificates (TCCs) to Steel Asia, among others.

During the investigation, the FFIB found that Steel Asia fraudulently obtained TCCs worth Two Hundred Forty-Two Million, Four Hundred Thirty-Three Thousand, Five Hundred Thirty-Four Pesos (P242,433,534.00). The FFIB concluded that Belicena, Malonzo and Andutan - in their respective capacities - irregularly approved the "issuance of the TCCs to several garment/textile companies and allowing their subsequent illegal transfer" to Steel Asia.


Issues:
  1. Does Section 20(5) of R.A. 6770 prohibit the Ombudsman from conducting an administrative investigation a year after the act was committed?
  2. Does Andutan's resignation render moot the administrative case filed against him?
  3. Assuming that the administrative case is not moot, are the Ombudsman findings supported by substantial evidence?
Ruling:
1.        
The provisions of Section 20(5) are merely directory;
the Ombudsman is not prohibited from conducting an
investigation a year after the supposed
act was committed.

-It is discretionary upon the Ombudsman whether or not to conduct an investigation on a complaint even if it was filed after one year from the occurrence of the act or omission complained of. In fine, the complaint is not barred by prescription.

- That a directory word, when qualified by the word "not," becomes prohibitory and therefore becomes mandatory in character, is not plausible. It is not supported by jurisprudence on statutory construction.

      II.
Andutan's resignation divests the Ombudsman
of its right to institute an administrative
complaint against him.


- It shall also be without prejudice to the filing of any administrative, criminal case against him for any act committed while still in the service.

- Resignation is not a way out to evade administrative liability when facing administrative sanction.The resignation of a public servant does not preclude the finding of any administrative liability to which he or she shall still be answerable.

     III.

            The possibility of imposing accessory penalties does not negate the Ombudsman lack
of jurisdiction.

            - Pagano v. Nazarro, Jr  There are other penalties which may be imposed on her if she is later found guilty of administrative offenses charged against her, namely, the disqualification to hold any government office and the forfeiture of benefits

-The administrative proceedings had already been commenced at the time she was considered separated from service through her precipitate filing of her certificate of candidacy.Petitioner's bad faith was manifest when she filed it, fully knowing that administrative proceedings were being instituted against her as part of the procedural due process in laying the foundation for an administrative case.

OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN, PETITIONER, VS. HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS AND FORMER DEPUTY OMBUDSMAN FOR THE VISAYAS ARTURO C. MOJICA, RESPONDENTS
[ G.R. NO. 146486, March 04, 2005 ]
Facts of the Case:

The case had its inception on 29 December 1999, when twenty-two officials and employees of the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman (OMB) for the Visayas, led by its two directors, filed a formal complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman requesting an investigation on the basis of allegations that then Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas, private respondent Arturo Mojica, committed the following: 1. Sexual harassment against Rayvi Padua-Varona; 2. Mulcting money from confidential employees James Alueta and Eden Kiamco; and 3. Oppression against all employees in not releasing the P7,200.00 benefits of OMB-Visayas employees. The complaints in Criminal Case No. OMB-0-00-0615 and Administrative Case No. OMB-ADM-0-00-0316, were dismissed.
Thereupon, on 15 January 2001, the Office of the Ombudsman filed before this Court “a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, and alternatively, an original special civil action for certiorari under Sec. 1, Rule 65 of the same rules,

ISSUE:
Is the Deputy Ombudsman an impeachable officer under Section 2, Article XI of the 1987 Constitution?

RULING:
 The 1987 Constitution, the deliberations thereon, and the opinions of constitutional law experts all indicate that the Deputy Ombudsman is not an impeachable officer. The court has likewise taken into account the commentaries of the leading legal luminaries on the Constitution as to their opinion on whether or not the Deputy Ombudsman is impeachable. All of them agree in unison that the impeachable officers enumerated in Section 2, Article XI of the 1986 Constitution is exclusive. In their belief, only the Ombudsman, not his deputies, is impeachable. The impeachable officers are the President of the Philippines, the Vice-President, the members of the Supreme Court, the members of the Constitutional Commissions, and the Ombudsman. (see Art. XI, Sec. 2) The list is exclusive and may not be increased or reduced by legislative enactment.
The rule that an impeachable officer cannot be criminally prosecuted for the same offenses which constitute grounds for impeachment presupposes his continuance in office.Hence, the moment he is no longer in office because of his removal, resignation, or permanent disability, there can be no bar to his criminal prosecution in the courts. Nor does retirement bar an administrative investigation from proceeding against the private respondent, given that, as pointed out by the petitioner, the former’s retirement benefits have been placed on hold in view of the provisions of Sections 12 and 13 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

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