By Chito Chavez
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has cited the Supreme Court for issuing a circular reminding and advising all Regional Trial Courts (RTCs) that “they have no jurisdiction or authority to interfere with or restrict the execution of the decisions of the Ombudsman in disciplinary cases”.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año (Photo from Philippine Information Agency / MANILA BULLETIN)
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año welcomed the issuance of Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) Circular No. 221-2019 in view of repeated cases where various RTCs have issued Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO) and writs of preliminary injunctions against the decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman which the DILG is mandated to implement.
“The numerous instances when the statutory duty of this Department to implement the decisions of the Ombudsman have been stymied by the issuance of the RTC of temporary restraining orders and writs of preliminary injunction have become alarming because this is contrary to the doctrine of judicial stability and hierarchy of courts. Thus, we were constrained to seek the advice of the Supreme Court,” Año said.
With the High Court’s order, Año vowed the DILG will ignore any TRO or injunction issued by any RTC against the decisions of the Ombudsman “since the Supreme Court has ruled that it has no legal authority to do so”.
He advised those aggrieved by any decision of the Ombudsman to follow the proper and correct procedure.
“As clearly laid down in OCA Circular No. 221-2019, the Court of Appeals via a Petition for Review is the proper recourse for those aggrieved by any decision by the Ombudsman. While this Department respects the right of all to due process, this must be exercised in the proper and legal manner,” he added.
OCA Circular No. 221-2019 issued by Court Administrator Midas P. Marquez states that “As a co-equal body, the RTC has no jurisdiction to interfere with or restrain the execution of the Ombudsman’s decision in disciplinary cases,” citing the decisions of the Supreme Court in DILG vs. Gatuz, GR No. 191176 (2015) and Erice v. Judge Sison, AM No. RTJ-15-2407 (2017).
“This is a big step towards holding our public officials, especially local government officials, accountable to the people. We thank the Supreme Court for acting swiftly on our letter dated 21 November 2019 and we advise the public to be so guided accordingly,” he ended.