On Court of Appeals’ review power over Ombudsman’s rulings
There seems to be a misconception from some quarters, including Inquirer columnists Solita Monsod and Ramon Tulfo and letter-writer Chin Chin Katigbak, about the Court of Appeals’ power of judicial review over the investigative power of the Office of the Ombudsman.
Katigbak, who seconded Monsod’s opinion, asked: “But is not the Ombudsman Act of 1989 clear enough that only the Supreme Court can interfere with the Ombudsman’s exercise of jurisdiction?” (“Doctrine rewards corruption in gov’t,” Opinion, 4/27/15)
The misconception stems from Section 14 of Republic Act No. 6770 (The Ombudsman Act of 1989), which states: “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 Ombudsman.
“No court shall hear any appeal or application for remedy against the decision or findings of the Ombudsman, except the Supreme Court on pure question of law.” (Underscoring supplied).
However, it must be noted that the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure amended Rule 43 of the Rules of Court by expanding the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals to hear appeals from judgments or final orders of all quasi-judicial functions in the exercise of their quasi-judicial functions, including the Office of the Ombudsman, even on pure questions of law.
With particular reference to a final order or resolution of the Ombudsman, this expanded jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals was reinforced by a recent Supreme Court ruling (Armando P. Cortes vs Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas, et al., GR No. 187896-97, June 10, 2013) which held that:
- “appeals from decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative disciplinary cases should be taken to the Court of Appeals under the provisions of Rule 43, in line with the regulatory philosophy adopted in appeals from quasi-judicial agencies in the 1997 Revised Rules of Civil Procedure”;
- in cases of a consolidation of an administrative and a criminal complaint, “the petitioner had the option to either file a petition for review under Rule 43 in the Court of Appeals or directly file a certiorari petition under Rule 65 in (the Supreme) Court.”
In effect, where an appeal or petition for review is duly filed in the Court of Appeals, as in Mayor Junjun Binay’s case, the Court of Appeals is vested with the power to grant ancillary remedies such as a temporary restraining order and a writ of preliminary injunction against the Office of the Ombudsman because that power is now deemed to have been delegated to that court in administrative cases. Without that “power of interference” by the Court of Appeals, petitioners will find themselves filing a petition, motion or application for ancillary remedies with the Supreme Court separate from their main petition—a situation that is not only unreasonable and burdensome in terms of duplicated docket fees, pleading and evidentiary attachments but also repugnant to the rules against splitting of cause of action and forum-shopping.
—DIOSDADO V. CALONGE, Calonge Law Office, [email protected]
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