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DIGESTED CASES IN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 1| ATTY.

ANTONIO EDUARDO NACHURA | 1B, 1H, 1N 2018-2019

XIII.ACCOUNTABILITY OF PUBLIC OFFICERS: OMBUDSMAN


19. Olairez v. Sandiganbayan
(G.R. No. 148030 , March 10, 2003)
VITUG, J.:

FACTS:
Private respondent Tenoria instituted an action before National Labor Relations Commission
(NLRC) for illegal dismissal against against Combate Clinic, St. Peter Thelmo Drug, Mercury Drug
Aparri Branch, Dr. Valeriano Combate and Mrs. Hedy Combate, hereinafter collectively referred to
as Mercury Drug, et al., which was assigned to petitioner Olairez. Olairez dismissed Tenoria's
complaint for lack of merit, but Tenoria appealed to the NLRC which, in a decision promulgated on
25 May 1995, vacated the order of dismissal and entered another judgment. When the case
became due for execution, a pre-execution conference was conducted. The petitioner originally
ordered the reinstatement of Tenoria with no backwages as the same was already earned in her
employ with other company. Tenoria assailed the order before the NLRC, which the latter granted
and, thus, another order was issued by Olairez granting a P310,000.00 backwages to Tenoria.
Meanwhile, on 06 March 2000, Tenoria filed a case for violation of Republic Act No. 3019,
docketed OMB-1-00-0436, against Executive Labor Arbiter Olairez, Dr. Valeriano Combate in his
capacity as member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Tuguegarao, Cagayan, and Hedy
Combate in her capacity as member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Calamaniugan, Cagayan. In a
resolution, dated 29 November 2000, Graft Investigator Casihan-Dumlao, with the concurrence of
Director Nocos, recommended the dismissal of the case against the Combates and the filing,
however, of an information against Executive Labor Arbiter Olairez for violation of Section 3(e) of
R.A. No. 3019. The case against the petitioner was approved and filed with the Sandiganbayan by
the Ombudsman. His motion for reconsideration or reinvestigation having been denied, Olairez file
this petition for certiorari before the Supreme Court.

ISSUE:
Whether or not the act of the Ombudsman in this case could be assailed due to grave abuse of
discretion.

HELD:
Yes. Almost invariably, the Court has respected the assessment of the Ombudsman on the
determination of the existence or absence of probable cause. It is basically within his sound
judgment to evaluate whether, given the facts and circumstances before him, a criminal case
should or should not be filed. Thus, it has been consistently held that it is not for this Court to review
the Ombudsman's paramount discretion in prosecuting or dismissing a complaint filed before his
office.
In Ocampo, IV vs. Ombudsman, the Court has ratiocinated that "the rule is based not only
upon respect for the investigatory and prosecutory powers granted by the Constitution to the Office
of the Ombudsman but upon practicality as well. Otherwise, the functions of the courts will be
grievously hampered by innumerable petitions assailing the dismissal of investigatory proceedings
conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman with regard to complaints filed before it, in much the
same way that the courts would be extremely swamped if they could be compelled to review the
exercise of discretion on the part of the fiscals or prosecuting attorneys each time they decide to file
an information in court or dismiss a complaint by a private complainant." There is, however, one
important exception to the above rule, and it would be when grave abuse of discretion on the part of
the Ombudsman in either prosecuting or dismissing a case before it is evident.
In this event, the act of the Ombudsman can justifiably be assailed. It is neither right nor just
to unnecessarily put to anxiety and anguish a person by an indictment for a crime that, on its face,
cannot stand. No useful purpose but only harm and undue concern can be achieved from an
unwarranted criminal prosecution. The resolution of the Ombudsman was set aside and the
Sandiganbayan was directed to dismiss the case against the petitioner.