The Court of Appeals has dismissed the petition filed by a former jail warden seeking to stop the Office of the Ombudsman from pursuing the forfeiture proceedings against his alleged ill-gotten wealth amounting to P52.9 million.
In a 10-page decision, the CA’s Seventh Division through Associate Justice Magdangal de Leon sustained the resolution issued by the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices (Moleo) on Aug. 16, 2012 recommending that a forfeiture case be initiated in court against former Quezon City Jail warden Supt. Nestor Velasquez Jr.
The CA ruled that it has no jurisdiction to hear and resolve Velasquez’s appeals since decisions of the Ombudsman in criminal cases are unappealable.
But the appellate court stressed that if petitioner believes that the findings of the Ombudsman on the existence of probable cause in criminal cases are tainted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, the remedy is a petition for certiorari filed before the Supreme Court.
“In no case then is this Court allowed to look into the criminal cases decided by the Office of the Ombudsman. Only administrative cases are appealable before us,” the CA held.
“Any and all matters pertaining to criminal cases, including the finding of probable cause which this case partakes of, decided by the Office of the Ombudsman, must be elevated before the Supreme Court via a petition for certiorari . . .” the appellate court pointed out.
Associate Justices Elihu Ybanez and Victoria Isabel Paredes concurred with the ruling.
The case against Velasquez arose from an anonymous complaint sent to the Ombudsman in 2009 by his subordinate accusing him of corruption, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology manual and unexplained wealth.
The complaint alleged that petition was the protector and coddler of notorious inmates dealing illegal drugs from within the Quezon City jail premises.
The complaint added that in a short span of time and under suspicious circumstances, the former jail warden was able to buy properties, including a house and expensive vehicles.
These properties, according to the complaint, were placed in the names of third persons in order for the petitioner to avoid declaring these in his statement of assets and liabilities.
The Fact-Finding Investigation Bureau of the Moleo was able to confirm the allegations during its preliminary investigation.
Based on its probe, the petitioner amassed a net worth of P58,367,114 from 1999-2009 when his income was only P5,425,694.
With his assets obviously disproportionate to his income, the Moleo found probable cause to order forfeiture proceedings be instituted against the jail official.