Administrative Liability

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Office of the Ombudsman v. Uldarico P. Andutan (G.R. No. 164679, 27 July 2011) The Ombudsman argued – in both the present petition and in the petition it filed with the CA – that Andutan’s retirement from office does not render moot any administrative case, as long as he is charged with an offense he committed while in office. It is irrelevant, according to the Ombudsman, that Andutan had already resigned prior to the filing of the administrative case since the operative fact that determines its jurisdiction is the commission of an offense while in the public service. The Ombudsman relies on Section VI(1) of Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 38 for this proposition, viz.:

Section VI.

1. x x x

An officer or employee under administrative investigation may be allowed to resign pending decision of his case but it shall be without prejudice to the continuation of the proceeding against him. It shall also be without prejudice to the filing of any administrative, criminal case against him for any act committed while still in the service. (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The CA refused to give credence to this argument, holding that the provision “refers to cases where the officers or employees were already charged before they were allowed to resign or were separated from service.” In this case, the CA noted that “the administrative cases were filed only after Andutan was retired, hence the Ombudsman was already divested of jurisdiction and could no longer prosecute the cases.”

Challenging the CA’s interpretation, the Ombudsman argues that the CA “limited the scope of the cited Civil Service Memorandum Circular to the first sentence.” Further, according to the Ombudsman, “the court a quo ignored the second statement in the said circular that contemplates a situation where previous to the institution of the administrative investigation or charge, the public official or employee subject of the investigation has resigned.”

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