[G.R. NO. 175451 : September 28, 2007]
ROSARIO L. DADULO, Petitioner, v. THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN, HON. FELICIANO BELMONTE, JR., in his capacity as City Mayor of Quezon City and GLORIA PATANGUI, Respondents.
R E S O L U T I O N
For resolution is the motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner Rosario Dadulo of the Decision dated April 13, 2007 which disposed of the case as follows:
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 89909 affirming the March 4, 2003 Decision of the Office of the Ombudsman in OMB-C-A-0470-J which found petitioner Rosario Dadulo guilty of conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and imposed upon her the penalty of suspension for six months is AFFIRMED.
Petitioner insists that the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman which found her guilty of conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and imposed upon her the penalty of suspension for six months, which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals in the assailed April 13, 2007 Decision, was not supported by substantial evidence and that the implementation of the suspension Order is premature.
We deny the motion for reconsideration.
The factual findings of the Office of the Ombudsman upon which its decision on petitioner's administrative liability was based are supported by the evidence on record. These include the affidavits of the parties to the instant case including those of respondent Gloria Patangui and Jessica Patangui, and the counter-affidavits of petitioner and of the other Barangay Security Development Officers (BSDO).
Respondent Gloria Patangui testified that on September 22, 2002, the construction materials were taken from her house and were brought to the barangay outpost. Patangui was informed by a BSDO that petitioner ordered the seizure.
Jessica, respondent's 9 year-old daughter, testified that she witnessed the actual taking of the construction materials; that she saw two men enter their premises and take the construction materials while a woman was supervising the activity. She later identified these men as the co-accused of petitioner.
Efren Pagabao, one of the BSDO administratively charged with petitioner, admitted that they went to the residence of respondent upon orders of petitioner on September 22, 2002 to verify whether respondent has a barangay permit for the house construction they were undertaking. This established the presence of the barangay officials at the respondent's residence and that they were there upon orders of petitioner.
On the other hand, other than a sweeping general denial of the charges against her, petitioner merely alleged that respondent was a professional squatter. She did not specifically deny any of the acts imputed against her nor did she explain why the construction materials were later found at the barangay outpost.
Thus, contrary to petitioner's claim, there is substantial evidence on record sufficient to hold her administratively liable.
As to the alleged premature implementation of the suspension order, the same is likewise bereft of merit.
Petitioner argues that her appeal has the effect of staying the execution of the decision of the Ombudsman hence, the immediate implementation of the suspension order before it has become final and executory, was premature. She cited the cases of Lapid v. Court of Appeals2 and Laxina v. Court of Appeals3 where this Court ruled against the immediate implementation of the Ombudsman's dismissal orders in view of Section 274 of Republic Act No. 6770.5
As correctly observed by the Solicitor General, at the time the Lapid and Laxina cases were decided, Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman was silent as to the execution of its decisions pending appeal. This was later amended by Administrative Order No. 17 and Administrative Order No. 14-A as implemented by Memorandum Circular No. 1 s. 2006. Hence, as amended, Section 7 of Rule III now reads:
Section 7. Finality and execution of decision. - Where the respondent is absolved of the charge, and in case of conviction where the penalty imposed is public censure or reprimand, suspension of not more than one month, or a fine equivalent to one month salary, the decision shall be final, executory and unappealable. In all other cases, the decision may be appealed to the Court of Appeals on a verified Petition for Review under the requirements and conditions set forth in Rule 43 of the Rules of Court, within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the written Notice of the Decision or Order denying the Motion for Reconsideration.Ï‚Î·Î±Ã±rÎ¿blÎµÅ¡ Î½Î¹râ€ Ï…Î±l lÎ±Ï‰ lÎ¹brÎ±rÃ¿
An appeal shall not stop the decision from being executory. In case the penalty is suspension or removal and the respondent wins such appeal, he shall be considered as having been under preventive suspension and shall be paid the salary and such other emoluments that he did not receive by reason of the suspension or removal.
A decision of the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative cases shall be executed as a matter of course.Ï‚Î·Î±Ã±rÎ¿blÎµÅ¡ Î½Î¹râ€ Ï…Î±l lÎ±Ï‰ lÎ¹brÎ±rÃ¿
The Office of the Ombudsman shall ensure that the decision shall be strictly enforced and properly implemented. The refusal or failure by any officer without just cause to comply with an order of the Office of the Ombudsman to remove, suspend, demote, fine, or censure shall be a ground for disciplinary action against said officer.
In the case of In the Matter to Declare in Contempt of Court Hon. Simeon A. Datumanong, Secretary of DPWH,6 we held that:
The Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman are clearly procedural and no vested right of the petitioner is violated as he is considered preventively suspended while his case is on appeal. Moreover, in the event he wins on appeal, he shall be paid the salary and such other emoluments that he did not receive by reason of the suspension or removal. Besides, there is no such thing as a vested interest in an office, or even an absolute right to hold office. Excepting constitutional offices which provide for special immunity as regards salary and tenure, no one can be said to have any vested right in an office.7
Well-settled is the rule that procedural laws are construed to be applicable to actions pending and undetermined at the time of their passage, and are deemed retroactive in that sense and to that extent. As a general rule, the retroactive application of procedural laws cannot be considered violative of any personal rights because no vested right may attach to nor arise therefrom.8
Following the ruling in the above cited case, this Court, in Buencamino v. Court of Appeals,9 upheld the resolution of the Court of Appeals denying Buencamino's application for preliminary injunction against the immediate implementation of the suspension order against him. The Court stated therein that considering that an appeal under Administrative Order No. 17, the amendatory rule, shall not stop the Decision of the Office of the Ombudsman from being executory, the Court of Appeals did not commit grave abuse of discretion in denying petitioner's application for injunctive relief.
Finally, the appeal of the decision of the Ombudsman to the Court of Appeals is through a Petition for Review under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court, Section 12 of which categorically provides that the appeal shall not stay the award, judgment, final order or resolution sought to be reviewed unless the Court of Appeals shall direct otherwise upon such terms as it may deem just.
WHEREFORE, the instant motion for reconsideration is DENIED with FINALITY.
1 Rollo, p. 184.
2 390 Phil. 236 (2000).
3 G.R. No. 153155, September 30, 2005, 471 SCRA 542.
4 Effectivity and Finality of Decisions. - (1) All provisionary orders of the Office of the Ombudsman are immediately effective and executory.
A motion for reconsideration of any order, directive or decision of the Office of the Ombudsman must be filed within five (5) days after receipt of written notice and shall be entertained only on any of the following grounds:
(1) New evidence has been discovered which materially affects the order, directive or decision;
(2) Errors of law or irregularities have been committed prejudicial to the interest of the movant. The motion for reconsideration shall be resolved within three (3) days from filing: Provided, That only one motion for reconsideration shall be entertained.
Findings of fact by the Office of the Ombudsman when supported by substantial evidence are conclusive. Any order, directive or decision imposing the penalty of public censure or reprimand, suspension of not more than one month's salary shall be final and unappealable.
In all administrative disciplinary cases, orders, directives or decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman may be appealed to the Supreme Court by filing a petition for certiorari within ten (10) days from receipt of the written notice of the order, directive or decision or denial of the motion for reconsideration in accordance with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
The above rules may be amended or modified by the Office of the Ombudsman as the interest of justice may require.
5 The Ombudsman Act of 1989.
6 G.R. No. 150274, August 4, 2006, 497 SCRA 626.
7 Id. at 637.
8 Id. at 636-637.
9 G.R. No. 175895, April 12, 2007.