CA affirms dismissal of cases vs Pasig mayor, other city officials.
By Rey Panaligan
The Court of Appeals (CA) has dismissed, on technical ground, the petition filed by Eastern Petroleum Corporation that challenged the ruling of the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) which cleared Pasig City Mayor Roberto Eusebio and other city officials of administrative charges over the closure of the firm's oil depot in 2017.
In a resolution written by Associate Justice Samuel H. Gaerlan, the CA ruled that Eastern Petroleum availed, itself, of a wrong remedy in questioning the OMB's ruling.
The CA said that Eastern Petroleum should have filed a petition under Rule 65 to challenge the alleged abuse of discretion on the part of the OMB instead of lodging an ordinary appeal under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court.
It pointed out that the challenged rulings of the OMB dated April 25, 2018 and Aug. 15, 2018 could no longer be subject of ordinary appeals because dismissal of administrative case is considered final and executory under the Rules of the Ombudsman.
"From the foregoing, there are only two instances where a decision of the Ombudsman in administrative cases is considered as final and unappealable and, thus, immediately executory: first, when the respondent is absolved of the charge; and second, in case of conviction, where the penalty imposed is public censure or reprimand, suspension of not more than one month, or a fine equivalent to one month salary," the CA said.
"Here, respondents were absolved of the administrative charge against them. Being the case, the Ombudsman's Joint Resolution was beyond the reach of an appeal or even of a motion for reconsideration," it said.
Thus, it explained, the proper remedy on the part of Eastern Petroleum should have been a petition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court to prove grave abuse of discretion on the part of OMB.
Junked by the OMB were the complaints against the Pasig City officials for alleged violations of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The city officials were held criminally and administratively liable for the closure of the oil firm's depot in 2017 following the complaints of resident on the foul smell within the area.
Acting on the issue, the OMB found no probable cause on the criminal aspect and cleared the city officials on the administrative charge. The oil firm elevated the administrative issue to the CA.
Aside from Eusebio, also cleared by the OMB were city legal office chief Atty. Christian Villar, city environment and natural resources office chief Raquel Naciongayo, action plan chief of operations Bong De Leon, business permit chief Ma. Theresa Hernandez and licensing officer Melanie De Mesa.
Court of Appeals (Credits: KJ Rosales | Manila Bulletin file photo)