Petitions for TRO of dismissed deputy Ombudsman, suspended special prosecutor denied
MANILA, Philippines—The disciplinary action imposed by Malacanang on Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzalez III and Special Prosecutor Wendell Barreras-Sulit will stay.
This, after the Supreme Court denied their motion for the issuance of a temporary restraining order against Malacanang to stop the implementation of the suspension order against them.
Gonzalez has been dismissed by Malacanang after he was found guilty of neglect of duty and gross misconduct for allegedly demanding P150,000 from hostage taker Captain Rolando Mendoza to facilitate his criminal case pending before the Office of the Ombudsman while Sulit was suspended in connection with her involvement on the plea bargaining agreement with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.
“The temporary restraining order is denied for lack of merit. The decision of the Palace stays while their petitions are being considered by the Court,” high court spokesman Jose Midas Marquez said.
Gonzalez and Sulit filed their separate petitions before the Supreme Court questioning Malacanang’s jurisdiction to impose disciplinary action on them.
In his petition, Gonzalez asked the high court to issue a status quo order and require Malacanang to cease and desist from implementing its order of dismissal against him.
Gonzalez maintained that the Office of the Ombudsman is an independent body as stated under Article XI of the 1987 Constitution and of Republic Act 6770, or the Ombudsman Act.
“Based on the foregoing considerations, it is a serious fallacy for respondents to insist that the Office of the President has concurrent jurisdiction with the Ombudsman over public officials. It does not follow that when this Honorable Court declares the Ombudsman’s disciplinary power to be concurrent with other heads of offices or departments, the Office of the President automatically shares this power over all public officials or employees,” Gonzalez said in his petition.
Sulit, in her separate petition, also maintained that the Office of the President was not the proper agency to pursue administrative proceedings against her.
She contended that the grant to the President of the power to remove a deputy or special prosecutor under Section 8 of the Ombudsman Act of 1989 was “unconstitutional and void” because it negated the independence sought to be attained in the creation of the Office of the Ombudsman.
Malacanang, on March 24, directed Sulit to explain why no administrative proceedings should be conducted against her in connection with the controversial plea bargaining they had entered into with former military comptroller Carlos Garcia.
Malacanang was prompted to initiate an administrative proceeding against Sulit upon recommendation of Congress that she should be dismissed from service due to “gross inexcusable negligence, ignorance of the law, lack of professionalism and dereliction of duty.”
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