The Supreme Court has affirmed the implementation of the dismissal order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman against former Commission on Human Rights Commissioner Cecilia Rachel Quisumbing after it found her administratively liable for direct bribery, graft and grave misconduct.
In a decision, the SC dismissed the petition of Quisumbing seeking to nullify her dismissal from government service.
“Contrary to Quisumbing’s assertion, the Ombudsman need not issue a separate order for the implementation of its August 28, 2014 Joint Resolution, precisely because the Ombudsman Rules of Procedure already ordain the immediate implementation thereof,” the high court ruled.
“Since the joint resolution is immediately executory, respondents did not commit grave abuse of discretion when they issued the assailed memoranda. In fact, they were simply following the law and giving due respect to the orders of the Ombudsman,” it said.
Quisumbing had asked the high tribunal to set aside the September 24, 2014 memorandum issued by former Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and the October 1, 2014 memorandum issued by former CHR chairman Loreta Ann Rosales.
These issuances implemented the Ombudsman’s August 28, 2014 joint resolution which imposed on Quisumbing the penalty of dismissal.
Quisumbing argued that the issuances trample upon the constitutional powers and independence of the CHR and the Ombudsman.
She argued that the assailed memoranda constituted an “undue executive control or interference” upon the constitutional independence of the CHR.
The petitioner also claimed that the memoranda usurped the “sole prerogative” of the Ombudsman to order the immediate implementation of its decisions.
She noted that under the Office of the Ombudsman Administrative Order No. 17, the immediate executory effect of the Ombudsman’s decisions applies only to appeals, and not to motions for reconsideration.
Since the Ombudsman did not issue an order to implement its August 28, 2014 resolution, Quisumbing insisted that its immediate implementation through the assailed memoranda, pending the resolution of her motion for reconsideration, was an undue encroachment upon the Ombudsman’s power to enforce its own rulings.
However, the high court held that a motion for reconsideration does not stop the immediate implementation of a dismissal order issued by the Ombudsman.
“There is no difference between an appeal and a motion for reconsideration insofar as their effect on the immediate implementation of the assailed order is concerned,” the SC stressed.
“The Ombudsman Act and the Ombudsman Rules of Procedure expressly allow the filing of a motion for reconsideration from decisions of the Ombudsman in administrative cases,” it said.
With regard to the memoranda issued by the former executive secretary and the CHR, the SC said these were based on the August 28, 2014 joint resolution of the Ombudsman ordering her dismissal.
The Court also noted that Quisumbing’s motion for reconsideration of the Ombudsman’s order had already been denied last November 11, 2014 by the Ombudsman.
The charges against Quisumbing stemmed from several complaints filed by members of her staff namely Ma. Regina D. Eugenio, Elizabeth Diego-Buizon, Alexander B. Fernandez and Jesse K. Ayuste. Buizon, Fernandez, and Ayuste accused Quisumbing of several office oppressions, irregularities, and abuses.
On the other hand, Eugenio accused the former CHR commissioner of causing her promotion and pocketing the amount of the resultant salary differentials.
In October 2020, the Sandiganbayan Second Division acquitted Quisumbing of graft, direct bribery and breach of conduct due to the failure of the prosecution to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt in connection with Eugenio’s case.