The Court of Appeals (CA) has upheld the 2020 ruling of the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) that ordered the dismissal of lawyer Samuel Aloysius M. Jardin as executive director of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).
In a decision, the CA’s Eleventh Division ordered Jardin dismissed for grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and violations of the Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service (RACCS) and Republic Act No. 6713, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
“The disciplinary authority over presidential appointees, such as the petitioner (Jardin) in this case, belongs concurrently to the Office of the President (OP) and the Office of the Ombudsman. Thus, the Office of the Ombudsman has the full administrative disciplinary authority, including the power to determine the appropriate penalty imposable on erring public officers or employees as warranted by the evidence, and, necessarily, impose the said penalty,” the CA ruled.
“In the instant case, the administrative case against the petitioner was properly initiated due to the Referral Letter dated February 26, 2020 issued by the Office of the President, through the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs. Specifically, the Referral Letter referred for investigation and adjudication several administrative complaints against the petitioner for his alleged corrupt acts,” it added.
Jardin elevated the anti-graft body’s ruling before the appellate court, which dismissed his petition in a decision promulgated last Sept. 22.
Court records showed that On April 3, 2019, then Secretary Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation (DoTr) charged Jardin with grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service for allegedly soliciting P4.8 million and P4.6 million from individuals for the issuance of a certificate of public convenience and franchise.
Tugade, on the same day the charge was filed, ordered the 90-day preventive suspension of Jardin. Tugade then sent a memorandum to the Office of the President (OP) and recommended that appropriate disciplinary action be instituted against Jardin “for causes arising from his alleged corrupt acts.”
In February 2020, the OP – through the deputy executive secretary for legal affairs – referred Tugade’s memorandum to the OMB for investigation and adjudication.
On March 6, 2020, the anti-graft body informed Jardin of its investigation and directed him to file his counter-affidavit which he did. Thereafter, on OMB’s order, the parties submitted their verified position papers.
On Dec. 22, 2020, the OMB found Jardin guilty as charged and ordered his dismissal as LTFRB executive director. When the OMB denied Jardin’s motion for reconsideration, he elevated the issue before the CA on June 22, 2021.
In his petition, Jardin urged the appellate court to set aside the Ombudsman ruling, saying that the OMB improperly instituted the administrative proceedings as Tugade for DoTr did not submit a sworn
complaint in compliance with the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman.
He also said that the OMB erroneously found him guilty of the crimes charged despite the insufficiency and inadmissibility of the evidence presented during the proceedings, and that the OMB committed reversible errors in giving due course to the administrative proceedings despite the existence of forum-shopping.
The DoTr refuted Jardin’s allegations. It told the CA the OMB did not commit errors in the institution of the administrative complaint against Jardin whose dismissal was supported by substantial evidence.
In dismissing Jardin’s petition, the CA rule that contrary to the petitioner’s averments, “nothing is irregular in the institution of the administrative case against him and the Office of the Ombudsman correctly exercised its jurisdiction to hear the same.”