Case Digest: Flores vs. Atty. Montemayor

G.R. No. 170146: June 8, 2011

HON. WALDO Q. FLORES, in his capacity as Senior Deputy Executive Secretary in the Office of the President et al.,Petitioners, v. ATTY. ANTONIO F. MONTEMAYOR, Respondent.



This resolves the motion for reconsideration of our Decision dated August 25, 2010 setting aside the October 19, 2005 Decision of the Court of Appeals and reinstating the Decision dated March 23, 2004 of the Office of the President in O.P. Case No. 03-1-581, which found the respondent administratively liable for failure to declare in his 2001 and 2002 Sworn Statement of Assets and Liabilities (SSAL) two expensive cars registered in his name, in violation of Section 7, Republic Act (R.A.) No. 3019 in relation to Section 8 (A) of R.A. No. 6713.The OP adopted the findings and recommendations of the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC), including the imposition of the penalty of dismissal from service on respondent, with all accessory penalties.

Respondent underscores the dismissal by the Ombudsman of the criminal and administrative complaints against him, including the charge subject of the proceedings before the PAGC and OP.It is argued that the Office of the Ombudsman as a constitutional body, pursuant to its mandate under R.A. No. 6770, has primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan, as against thePAGC which is not a constitutional body but a mere creation of the OP.Under said law, it is the Ombudsman who has disciplinary authority over all elective and appointive officials of the government, such as herein respondent.

ISSUE: Whether res judicata applies in this case


POLITICAL LAW: Law on Public Officer, Concurrent Jurisdiction of the Ombudsman

The same wrongful act committed by the public officer can subject him to civil, administrative and criminal liabilities.

Dismissal of a criminal action does not foreclose institution of an administrative proceeding against the same respondent, nor carry with it the relief from administrative liability. Res judicata did not set in because there is no identity of causes of action.Moreover, the decision of the Ombudsman dismissing the criminal complaint cannot be considered a valid and final judgment.On the criminal complaint, the Ombudsman only had the power to investigate and file the appropriate case before the Sandiganbayan.

Respondent argues that it is the Ombudsman who has primary jurisdiction over the administrative complaint filed against him.Notwithstanding the consolidation of the administrative offense (non-declaration in the SSAL) with the criminal complaints for unexplained wealth (Section 8 of R.A. No. 3019) and also for perjury (Article 183, Revised Penal Code, as amended) before the Office of the Ombudsman, respondents objection on jurisdictional grounds cannot be sustained.

Section 12 of Article XI of the1987 Constitutionmandated the Ombudsman to act promptly on complaints filed in any form or manner against public officials or employees of the Government, or any subdivision, agency, instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations.Under Section 13, Article XI, the Ombudsman is empowered to conduct investigations on his own or upon complaint by any person when such act appears to be illegal, unjust, improper, or inefficient.He is also given broad powers to take the appropriate disciplinary actions against erring public officials and employees.

The investigative authority of the Ombudsman is defined in Section 15 of R.A. No. 6770

Such jurisdiction over public officers and employees, however, is not exclusive.

This power of investigation granted to the Ombudsman by the 1987 Constitution and The Ombudsman Act is not exclusive but isshared with other similarly authorized government agencies, such as the PCGG and judges of municipal trial courts and municipal circuit trial courts.The power to conduct preliminary investigation on charges against public employees and officials is likewise concurrently shared with the Department of Justice. Despite the passage of the Local Government Code in 1991, the Ombudsman retains concurrent jurisdiction with the Office of the President and the localSangguniansto investigate complaints against local elective officials. (Emphasis supplied.)

Respondent who is a presidential appointee is under thedisciplinaryauthority of the OP.Executive Order No. 12 dated April 16, 2001 created the PAGC which was granted the authority toinvestigatepresidential and also non-presidential employees "who may have acted in conspiracy or may have been involved with a presidential appointee or ranking officer mentionedx x x." On this score, we do not agree with respondent that the PAGC should have deferred to the Ombudsman instead of proceeding with the administrative complaint in view of the pendency of his petition for certiorari with the CA challenging the PAGCs jurisdiction.Jurisdiction is a matter of law.Jurisdiction once acquired is not lost upon the instance of the parties but continues until the case is terminated.