Frequently Asked Questions
What rules apply in the investigation of Ombudsman cases?
Is there a prescribed form for complaints to be filed with the Office of the Ombudsman?
Does the Ombudsman entertain anonymous complaints?
What are the grounds for filing a criminal complaint?
Does the Office of the Ombudsman have jurisdiction to investigate private persons?
How is a criminal complaint acted upon by the Office of the Ombudsman?
The complaint will be evaluated and it may either be:
- dismissed outright for want of palpable merit;
- referred to respondent for comment;
- indorsed to the proper government office or agency which has jurisdiction over the case;
- forwarded to the appropriate office or official for fact-finding investigation;
- Subjected to preliminary investigation.
Who may conduct preliminary investigation of Ombudsman cases?
Preliminary investigation may be conducted by any of the following:
- Ombudsman Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officers;
- Assistant Special Prosecutors;
- Deputized Prosecutors;
- Investigating Officials authorized by law to conduct preliminary investigations or
- Lawyers in the government service, so designated by the Ombudsman.
How is preliminary investigation conducted in the Office of the Ombudsman?
Preliminary investigation of Ombudsman cases falling under the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan and Regional Trial Courts shall be conducted in the manner prescribed in the Rules of Court, Rule 112, Section 3, subject to the following provisions:
- If the complaint is not under oath or is based only on official reports, the investigating officer shall require the complainant or supporting witnesses to execute affidavits to substantiate the complaint.
- After such affidavits have been secured, the investigating officer shall issue an order, attaching thereto a copy of the affidavits and other supporting documents, directing the respondents to submit, within ten (10) days from receipt thereof, their counter-affidavits and controverting evidence with proof of service thereof on the complainant. The complainant may file reply affidavits within ten (10) days after service of the counter-affidavits.
- If the respondents do not file counter-affidavits, the investigating officer may consider the comment filed by them, if any, as their answer to the complaint. In any event, the respondent shall have access to the evidence on record.
- No motion to dismiss shall be allowed except for lack of jurisdiction. Neither may a motion for a bill of particulars be entertained. If respondents desire any matter in the complainant’s affidavit to be clarified, the particularization thereof may be done at the time of clarificatory questioning in the manner provided in paragraph (f) hereof.
- If the respondents cannot be served with the order mentioned in paragraph b hereof, or having been served, does not comply therewith, the complaint shall be deemed submitted for resolution on the basis of the evidence on record.
- If, after the filing of the requisite affidavits and their supporting evidences, there are facts material to the case which the investigating officer may need to be clarified on, he may conduct a clarificatory hearing during which the parties shall be afforded the opportunity to be present but without the right to examine or cross-examine the witness being questioned. Where the appearance of the parties or witnesses is impracticable, the clarificatory questioning may be conducted in writing, whereby the questions desired to be asked by the investigating officer or a party shall be reduced into writing and served on the witness who shall be required to answer the same in writing and served on the witness concerned who shall be required to answer the same in writing and under oath.
- Upon the termination of the preliminary investigation, the investigating officer shall forward the records of the case together with his resolution to the designated authorities for their appropriate action thereon.
- No information may be filed and no complaint may be dismissed without the written authority or approval of the Ombudsman in cases falling within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, or the proper Deputy Ombudsman.
Who shall be served with a copy of the resolution of a case approved by the Ombudsman or by the proper Deputy Ombudsman?
Can a Motion for Reconsideration of the resolution of a criminal case be filed with the Office of the Ombudsman?
Will a Motion for Reconsideration/Reinvestigation bar the filing of the corresponding information in Court on the basis of the finding of probable cause in the resolution subject of the motion?
What are the grounds for filing an administrative complaint?
An administrative complaint may be filed for acts or omissions which are:
- contrary to law or regulations;
- unreasonable, unfair, oppressive or discriminatory;
- inconsistent with the general course of an agency’s functions though in accordance with law;
- based on a mistake of law or an arbitrary ascertainment of facts;
- in the exercise of discretionary powers but for an improper purpose;
- otherwise irregular, immoral or devoid of justification;
- due to any delay or refusal to comply with the referral or directive of the Ombudsman or any of his deputies against the officer or employee to whom it was addressed; and
- such other grounds provided for under E.O. 292 and other applicable laws.
Who are covered by the administrative disciplinary authority of the Office of the Ombudsman?
Are there public officials not covered by the disciplinary authority of the Office of the Ombudsman?
Is there an instance wherein the Office of the Ombudsman can investigate officials removable only by impeachment?
How can an administrative case be initiated?
Is a Certificate of Non-Forum Shopping required in an administrative case?
May the Ombudsman or the respective Deputy Ombudsman on his initiative or on the basis of a complaint originally filed as a criminal action or a grievance complaint or request for assistance order the conduct of an administrative proceeding?
How is an administrative complaint acted upon?
The complaint will be evaluated to determine whether the same may be:
- dismissed outright for any of the grounds stated under Section 20 of RA 6770, provided, however, that the dismissal thereof is not mandatory and shall be discretionary on the part of the Ombudsman or the Deputy Ombudsman concerned;
- treated as a grievance/request for assistance which may be referred to the Public Assistance Bureau, this Office, for appropriate action;
- referred to the disciplinary authorities under RA 6770, Section 23, paragraph 2, for the taking of appropriate administrative proceedings;
- referred to the appropriate office/agency or official for the conduct of further fact-finding investigation; or
- docketed as an administrative case for the purpose of administrative adjudication by the Office of the Ombudsman.
When may the Ombudsman opt for an outright dismissal of a complaint under RA 6770, Section 20?
The Ombudsman or the Deputy Ombudsman concerned may order the outright dismissal of a complaint and opt not to conduct the necessary investigation of any administrative act or omission complained of if it believes that:
- the complainant has an adequate remedy in another judicial or quasi-judicial body;
- the complaint pertains to a matter outside the jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman;
- the complaint is trivial, frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith;
- the complainant has no sufficient personal interest in the subject matter of the grievance; or
- the complaint was filed after one(1) year from the occurrence of the act or omission complained of.
When may the Ombudsman refer an administrative complaint to the disciplinary authorities under RA 6770, Section 23, paragraph 2, for the taking of appropriate administrative proceedings?
What is the effect if there is an unjustified delay in acting on any referral made by the Office of the Ombudsman to the proper disciplinary authority for the institution of appropriate administrative proceedings against erring public officers or employees?
How is administrative adjudication conducted in the Office of the Ombudsman?
- If the complaint is docketed as an administrative case, the respondent shall be furnished with a copy of the affidavits and other evidence submitted by the complainant, and shall be ordered to file his counter-affidavit and other evidence in support of his defense, within ten (10) days from receipt thereof, together with proof of service of the same on the complainant who may file his reply-affidavit within ten (10) days from receipt of the counter-affidavit of the respondent;
- If the Hearing Officer finds no sufficient cause to warrant further proceedings on the basis of the affidavits and other evidence submitted by the parties, the complaint may be dismissed. Otherwise, he shall issue an Order (or Orders) for any of the following purposes:
- To direct the parties to file, within ten (10) days from receipt of the Order, their respective verified position papers. The position papers shall contain only those charges, defenses and other claims contained in the affidavits and pleadings filed by the parties. Any additional relevant affidavit and/or documentary evidence may be attached by the parties to their position papers. On the basis of the position papers, affidavits and other pleadings file, the Hearing Officer may consider the case submitted for resolution.
- If the Hearing Officer decides not to consider the case submitted for resolution after the filing of the position papers, affidavits and pleadings, to conduct a clarificatory hearing regarding facts material to the case as appearing in the respective position papers, affidavits and pleadings filed by the parties. At this stage, he may, at his discretion and for the purpose of determining whether there is a need for a formal trial or hearing, ask clarificatory questions to further elicit facts or information;
In the conduct of clarificatory hearings, the parties shall be afforded the opportunity to be present but without the right to examine or cross-examine the party/witness being questioned. The parties may be allowed to raise clarificatory questions and elicit answers from the opposing party/witness, which shall be coursed through the Hearing Officer who shall determine whether or not the proposed questions are necessary and relevant. In such cases, the Hearing Officer shall ask the question in such manner and phrasing as he may deem appropriate.
- If the Hearing Officer finds no necessity for further proceedings on the basis of clarificatory hearings, affidavits, pleadings and position papers filed by the parties, he shall issue an Order declaring the case submitted for resolution. The Hearing Officer may also require the parties to simultaneously submit, within ten (10) days from receipt of the Order, their Reply Position Papers. The parties, if new affidavits and/or exhibits are attached to the other party’s Position Paper, may submit only rebutting evidence with their Reply Position Papers.
- If the Hearing Officer finds the need to conduct a formal investigation on the basis of the clarificatory hearings, pleadings, affidavits and the position papers filed by the parties, an Order shall be issued for the purpose. In the same Order, the parties shall be required to file within ten (10) days from receipt of the Order their respective pre-trial briefs which shall contain, among others, the nature of the charge(s) and defenses, proposed stipulation of facts, a definition of the issues, identification and marking of exhibits, limitation of witnesses, and such other matters as would expedite the proceedings. The parties are not allowed to introduce matters in the pre-trial briefs which are not covered by the position papers, affidavits and pleadings filed and served prior to issuance of the Order directing the conduct of a formal investigation.
- The conduct of formal proceedings by the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative cases shall be non-litigious in nature. Subject to the requirements of due process in administrative cases, the technicalities of law, procedure and evidence shall not strictly apply thereto. The Hearing Officer may avail himself of all reasonable means to ascertain speedily the facts of the case. He shall take full control of the proceedings, with proper regard to the right of the parties to due process, and shall limit the presentation of evidence to matters relevant to the issue(s) before him and necessary for a just and speedy disposition of the case.
- In the conduct of formal administrative investigation, the Hearing Officer shall set the case for continuous trial. The parties shall be notified at least ten (10) days before the date of the initial hearing. Failure of any or both of the parties to appear at the scheduled hearing(s) is not necessarily a cause for the dismissal of the complaint. A party who appears may be allowed to present his evidence in the absence of the adverse party who was duly notified of the hearing; however, if the absent party is able to show that there is a valid cause for his absence, he shall be afforded the opportunity to cross-examine the witness(es) presented during his absence. In case of two (2) successive unjustified non-appearances of any of the party in the proceedings, it shall be the option of the party who is present to submit the case for resolution on the basis of the records of the case and the evidence so far presented.
- Only witnesses whose affidavits have been submitted by the parties and served on the adverse party prior to the issuance of the Order directing the conduct of a formal investigation may be allowed to testify at the hearing. The affidavit of the witness shall constitute his direct testimony, subject to cross-examination, re-direct examination and re-cross examination. Unless the testimony of the witness involves newly discovered evidence, the Hearing Officer may not allow the presentation of witnesses whose affidavits have not been filed by the parties and served on the adverse party prior to the issuance of the Order to conduct formal investigation. If a witness whose testimony involves newly discovered evidence is allowed to testify, the adverse party shall have the right to cross-examine such witness and to submit rebuttal evidence, if any, relevant to said newly discovered evidence;
- The parties shall be allowed the assistance of counsel and the right to the production of evidence thru the compulsory process of subpoena ad testificandum and subpoena duces tecum.
What is the extent of authority of the Office of the Ombudsman in the conduct of administrative investigations?
Administrative investigations conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman shall be in accordance with its rules of procedure and consistent with due process.
In any investigation under R.A. No. 6770, the Ombudsman may (a) enter and inspect the premises of any office, agency, commission or tribunal; (b) examine and have access to any book, record, file, document or paper; and (c) hold private hearings with both the complaining individual and the official concerned.
Are there prohibited pleadings in the administrative proceedings of the Ombudsman?
Yes, the following pleadings shall be deemed prohibited:
- Motion to Dismiss, although any ground justifying the dismissal of the case may be discussed in the counter-affidavits/pleadings of the party;
- Motion for Bill of Particulars; and
- Dilatory Motions including, but not limited to, motions for extension of time, for postponement, second motions for reconsideration and/or re-investigation.
When should the Decision in the administrative case be rendered?
Not later than thirty (30) days after the case is declared submitted for resolution, the Hearing Officer shall submit a proposed decision containing his findings and recommendation for the approval of the Ombudsman. Said proposed decision shall be reviewed by the Directors, Assistant Ombudsmen and Deputy Ombudsmen concerned. Upon approval, copies thereof shall be served upon the parties and the head of the office or agency of which the respondent is an official or employee for his information and compliance with the appropriate directive contained therein.
When does an Ombudsman Decision become final and executory?
Where the respondent is absolved of the charge and in case of conviction where the penalty imposed is public censure, reprimand, suspension of not more than one month, or a fine equivalent to one month salary, the decision shall be final, executory and unappealable. In all other cases, the decision may be appealed to the Court of Appeals on a verified petition for review under the requirements and conditions set forth in Rule 43 of the Rules of Court, within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the written Notice of the Decision or Order denying the Motion for Reconsideration.
Does an appeal stop the decision from being executory?
No, an appeal shall not stop the decision from being executory.
What would be the effect if the penalty is suspension or removal and respondent wins the appeal?
In case the penalty is suspension or removal and the respondent wins such appeal, he shall be considered as having been under preventive suspension and shall be paid the salary and such other emoluments that he did not receive by reason of the suspension or removal.
How are decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative cases executed?
Decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative cases shall be executed as a matter of course. The Office of the Ombudsman shall ensure that its decisions shall be strictly enforced and properly implemented.
What would be the effect if any officer refuse or fail without just cause to comply with an order of the Office of the Ombudsman to implement its decisions?
The refusal or failure by any officer without just cause to comply with an order of the Office of the Ombudsman to remove, suspend, demote, fine, or censure shall be a ground for disciplinary action against said officer.
Does the Office of the Ombudsman entertain a Motion for Reconsideration/ Reinvestigation of the decision or order of an administrative case?
Yes, and only one motion for reconsideration or reinvestigation which should be filed within ten (10) days from receipt of the decision or order will be entertained.
What are the grounds for filing a Motion for Reconsideration/ Reinvestigation of the decision or order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman?
A Motion for Reconsideration/Reinvestigation of the decision or order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman may be filed on any of the following grounds:
(a) New evidence had been discovered which materially affects the order, directive or decision;
(b) Grave errors of facts or laws or serious irregularities have been committed prejudicial to the interest of the movant.
When should a Motion for Reconsideration/Reinvestigation of the decision or order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman be resolved?
The Hearing Officer shall resolve the Motion for Reconsideration/Reinvestigation of the decision or order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman within five (5) days from the date of submission for resolution.
Can the Ombudsman preventively suspend a respondent to a case?
Yes, the Ombudsman or his Deputy may preventively suspend any officer or employee under his authority pending an investigation, if in his judgment the evidence of guilt is strong, and (a) the charge against such officer or employee involves dishonesty, oppression or grave misconduct or gross neglect in the performance of duty; (b) the charges would warrant removal from service; or (c) the respondent’s continued stay in office may prejudice the case filed against him.
What is the duration of the preventive suspension?
The preventive suspension shall continue until the case is terminated; however, the total period of preventive suspension should not exceed six months, without pay. Nevertheless, when the delay in the disposition of the case is due to the fault negligence or any cause attributable to the respondent, the period of such delay shall not be counted in computing the period of suspension herein provided.
What are the penalties imposed by the Office of the Ombudsman?
(a) In administrative charges under Executive Order no. 292 or such other Executive Orders, laws or rules under which the respondent is charged, the penalties provided thereat shall be imposed by the Office of the Ombudsman.
(b) In administrative proceedings conducted under the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman, the penalty of reprimand, suspension without pay for a minimum period of one (1) month up to a maximum period of one (1) year; demotion, dismissal from the service, or a fine equivalent to his salary for one (1) month up to one (1) year, or from Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) to twice the amount malversed, illegally taken, or lost or both, at the discretion of the Ombudsman, taking into consideration circumstances that mitigate or aggravate the liability of the officer or employee found guilty of the complaint or charge.
What are the accessory penalties of the penalty of dismissal from the service?
The penalty of dismissal from the service shall carry with it that of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and the perpetual disqualification for re-employment in the government service, unless otherwise provided in the decision.
Can the Ombudsman grant immunity from prosecution?
Yes, any person whose testimony or production of documents or other evidence is necessary to determine the truth in any inquiry, hearing, or proceeding being conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman or under its authority in the performance or furthermore of its Constitutional functions and statutory objectives, including preliminary investigation, may be granted immunity from criminal prosecution by the Ombudsman, upon such terms and conditions as the Ombudsman may determine, taking into account the pertinent provisions of the Rules of Court.
How is the immunity from prosecution granted by the Ombudsman?
The immunity from prosecution may be granted upon application of the concerned party, the investigating, and hearing, or prosecuting officer, or at the instance of the Ombudsman. However, in all cases, the concerned party shall execute an affidavit reciting the substance of his proposed testimony and/or nature of the evidence in his possession.
Can a person subpoenaed to testify as a witness be excused from attending and testifying or from producing books, papers, correspondence, memoranda and/or records on the ground that the testimony or evidence, documentary or otherwise, required of him tend to incriminate him or subject him to prosecution?
In all hearings, inquiries, and proceedings of the Office of the Ombudsman, including preliminary investigation of offenses, no person subpoenaed to testify as a witness shall be excused from attending and testifying or from producing books, papers, correspondence, memoranda and/or records on the ground that the testimony or evidence, documentary or otherwise, required of him may tend to incriminate him or subject him to prosecution. Provided that no person shall be prosecuted criminally for or on account of any matter, concerning which he is compelled to testify and produce evidence, after having claimed the privilege against self-incrimination.
Can the Ombudsman revoke immunity from prosecution previously granted?
Yes, the Ombudsman may revoke immunity from criminal prosecution previously granted upon proper notice in the event that the person granted immunity subsequently retracts his statement, or fails or refuses to testify or produce evidence in court in accordance with the sworn statement upon which his immunity was granted.
Does the immunity from prosecution exempt a party concerned from criminal prosecution for perjury or false testimony, demotion or removal from office?
The grant of immunity from prosecution shall neither exempt the party concerned from criminal prosecution for perjury or false testimony, nor shall he be exempt from demotion or removal from office.
Do the Rules of Court apply in the Office of the Ombudsman?
In all matters not provided in the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman, the Rules of Court shall apply in a suppletory character or by analogy whenever practicable and convenient.