Thursday, April 23, 2015

Exclusive Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in Reviewing Ombudsman Decisions

The proper remedy in assailing the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman in its investigation of criminal cases is to file a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court directly with the Supreme Court, and not with the Court of Appeals.

The Supreme Court has been consistent with this rule in a line of cases such as Enemecio v. Office of the Ombudsman (G.R. No. 146731, January 13, 2004) and Baviera vs. Zoleta (G.R. No. 169098, October 12, 2006). The High Court ruled that, notwithstanding the established judicial policy of hierarchy of courts, statutory law mandates that the remedy in order to challenge the Resolution of the Ombudsman at the conclusion of a preliminary investigation is to file a petition for certiorari in the Supreme Court under Rule 65.

The Court explained that the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals extends only to decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative cases, not criminal cases, and said review of administrative disciplinary cases should be taken to the Court of Appeals under Rule 43 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. This is pursuant to Section 14 of Republic Act No. 6770 in relation to the ruling of the Court in Fabian v. Desierto which gives the Supreme Court the original and exclusive jurisdiction over petitions for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

RA 6770 is entitled "An Act Providing for the Functional and Structural Organizations of the Office of the Ombudsman, and for Other Purposes." Section 14 of the said law states that: "No court shall hear any appeal or application for remedy against the decision or findings of the Ombudsman, except the Supreme Court, on pure question of law." It is believed that this provision strengthens the independence and investigative powers of the Ombudsman.


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