Republic of the
OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN,
- versus -
ROMEO A. LIGGAYU,
G.R. No. 174297
PERALTA, J., Acting Chairperson,*
VILLARAMA, JR.,*** and
June 20, 2012
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D E C I S I O N
Before us is a petition for review on
certiorari filed by petitioner Office
of the Ombudsman which assails the Decision
The antecedent facts are as follows:
The former Chairman and General Manager of the
Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), retired Justice Cecilia Muoz-Palma,
authorized the release from her discretionary funds a cash advance in the
to cover the expenses of the PCSO Legal Department in attending to cases
pending before the Ombudsman and the various courts in Metro Manila. Respondent Atty. Romeo A. Liggayu was a
manager in the legal department to whom the cash advance was issued under Check
No. 165755 dated P45,717.39. To liquidate the cash
advance and reimbursement, Disbursement Voucher
No. 0499110507 dated December 3, 1999 was thereafter submitted wherein
respondent attached thereto the various official receipts (ORs) as reflected in
the summary of expenses for the food and
drinks purchased on different dates
which included among others: (1) receipt
dated July 8, 1999 issued by New Concepcion Cafe and Restaurant in the amount
of P1,525.50; and (2) Sales Invoice No. 31203
dated October 2, 1999 issued by Nature's Cafe in the amount of P2,204.00.
P23,577.14 as she found some
deficiencies with the documents submitted by respondent, to wit: (1) absence of
accomplishment reports; and (2) excessive expenses for food and beverages.
Later, Romero issued a Notice of Disallowance in the total amount of P7,519.00 from the cash advance of respondent, which included among others the
amounts of P2,204.00 under Nature's Cafe Sales Invoice no. 31203 and P1,525.50 under New Concepcion Cafe
and Restaurant Cash Invoice No. 36166.
The disallowance was due to the findings of the audit team that the
amount of P2,204.00
covered by Invoice No. 31203 was merely written or caused to be written by
respondent as the duplicate copy of the invoice in possession of the
establishment was found to be blank per certification by the latter's cost
comptroller; and that the OR corresponding
to the said sales invoice which was for the same amount was actually issued to
and paid by United Moonwalk Village Homeowners Association, Inc. (UMVHAI). On
the other hand, the New Concepcion Cafe and Restaurant Cash Invoice No. 36166
in the amount of P1,525.00 was discovered to be falsified since the duplicate copy on file with the
restaurant was only for the amount of P525.00; that
the figure 1 which appeared before the
numbers 525.50 was only added after the issuance of the said invoice to make it
appear that the bill was for the amount of
and that the establishment's proprietor certified as to the correctness of the
amount appearing in the duplicate copy of the sales invoice. Consequently, then PCSO General Manager
Ricardo Golpeo (Golpeo) formally charged
respondent of dishonesty, gross misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best
interest of the service. On
Respondent filed his Answer
denying the charges against him. He explained that as to the Nature Cafe's Sales
Invoice No. 31203 in the amount of
P2,204.00, he had no control in the preparation of the
said sales invoice, particularly the
duplicate copy thereof; that if the duplicate copy was left blank, then it
should be the establishment which must be investigated before the BIR; that the
sales invoice given to him bore the cashier's signature evidencing receipt of
the amount indicated therein and presumed to be valid, since it was numbered
and contained the tax identification number of the establishment; and that he is a member of UMVHAI but it was
possible that his identity was not known to the cafe's staff, thus the official
receipt was issued to UMVHAI.
As to the New Concepcion
Cafe's Cash Invoice No. 36166 in the amount of
P1,525.50, respondent argued that he merely received the cash invoice and
had no participation in the preparation thereof; that business establishments
usually reduced the amounts appearing in the duplicate of their receipts in
order to enable them to pay lesser tax.
Respondent also alleged in his answer the reasons why he could not get a
fair and impartial trial from the special investigating committee, thus prayed
for an independent committee to try his case.
On September 1, 2000, the RTC issued an Order granting the prayer for the issuance of an injunctive writ and ordered the aforementioned PCSO officials to: (a) reinstate respondent to his position as Manager of its Legal Department; (b) lift the preventive suspension imposed on him; (c) suspend the investigation on the formal charge against him and/or from doing or procuring to be done acts which tend to render any judgment in the case ineffectual until after the case shall have been decided on the merit or until further order from the court. A writ was subsequently issued.
however, in a meeting held on
Before petitioner could issue an order requiring respondent to file his counter-affidavit on the charge, the latter filed a Manifestation informing the former of a writ of preliminary injunction issued by the RTC.
2001 on the merits, thus the petition
filed with the CA was subsequently dismissed on
In an Order dated April 18, 2001, petitioner's Decision was modified so as to include the accessory penalty of forfeiture of leave credits and retirement benefits and disqualification for re-employment in the government service.
motion for reconsideration was denied by petitioner in its Order
Respondent then filed with the CA a petition for review under Rule 43 with application for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction entitled, Atty. Romeo A. Liggayu v. Ricardo G. Golpeo.
CA stated that petitioner's conclusion on the guilt of respondent was based on its findings that: first, the respondent had falsified
Official Receipt No. 36166 by adding the digit 1 before the amount
P525.50 to make it appear that the
cost of the food and drinks he purchased
was P1,525.50; second, respondent used the falsified
official receipt to support his disbursement of public funds; third, Sales Invoice No. 31203 was
actually issued to UMVHAI for food and drinks it purchased at the cost of P2,204.00; and fourth, the sales invoice of UMVHAI was used by respondent to
support his disbursement of public funds.
The CA found, however, that the original copy of Official Receipt No. 36166 which was submitted for liquidation was never proven to be a falsified document; that mere discrepancies between the two copies of one document did not establish the falsity of one copy unless the veracity of the other copy was first established, since it was equally possible for the false entry to be found in the latter copy. As to petitioner's finding that Sales Invoice No. 31203 was actually issued to UMVHAI and not to respondent, the CA found the evidence presented to be at odds with each other. It found that Elenita So was not the one who issued the official receipt to UMVHAI, since her signature therein differed from her signature in her certification and in her affidavit; thus, she was not the proper person to testify on the transaction embodied in the official receipt; that there was no basis for petitioner to conclude that the actual transaction involved in Sales Invoice No. 31203 was that stated in the official receipt.
Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) filed in behalf of the PCSO
General Manager a motion for reconsideration. Petitioner filed an Omnibus Motion
for Intervention and Reconsideration. The CA denied the motions for
reconsideration in a Resolution dated
denying reconsideration, the CA reiterated its findings contained in its
Hence, this petition wherein petitioner raises the following grounds:
RESPONDENT LIGGAYU'S INTERCALATION OF THE DIGIT 1 BEFORE THE AMOUNT [525.50],
TO MAKE IT APPEAR THAT HE PAID
RESPONDENT LIGGAYU'S USAGE OF SALES INVOICE NO. 31203 FOR
FOR THE LIQUIDATION OF HIS CASH ADVANCE, WHICH WAS ISSUED BY NATURE'S CAFE TO
AND PAID FOR BY THE UNITED MOONWALK VILLAGE HOMEOWNER'S ASSOCIATION, INC. (UMVHAI) FOR FOOD AND
DRINKS SERVED TO ITS MEMBERS DURING ITS
MEETING ON A SUNDAY, LIKEWISE
CONSTITUTES DISHONESTY, GRAVE MISCONDUCT AND CONDUCT PREJUDICIAL TO THE BEST
INTEREST OF THE SERVICE.
assails the factual findings of the CA. It contends that as between the OR in
the amount of
P1,525.50 submitted by respondent to support his liquidation and the
duplicate OR in the amount of P525.50 on file with the business establishment which
issued the same, the duplicate OR is more credible, as the business
establishment is a disinterested witness
to respondent's purchase; and that it is pure speculation to conclude that the
business establishment's duplicate ORs bore understated amounts to evade
taxation, since respondent had not adduced evidence to show that New Concepcion
Cafe is a tax evader.
claims that as to Sales Invoice No. 31203 issued by Nature's Cafe, the CA erred
in discarding the declarations of Elenita So that the amount of
P2,204.00 under Sales Invoice No.
31203 was paid for by UMVHAI and not by respondent; and that respondent's utilization of the said invoice in liquidating his cash
advance is a clear act of misrepresentation.
In his Comment/Opposition, respondent informed us that the PCSO, through its Board of Directors, adopted and approved Board Resolution No. 415 on August 30, 2006, which accepted the CA decision and decided not to appeal the same which reversed petitioner's order dismissing respondent from the service; that the OGCC, acting as PCSO's agent and counsel, did not anymore file any petition assailing the CA decision. Respondent also states that earlier in November 2002, PCSO had already cleared him of all his property and cash accountabilities with the office and that he had already received all the salaries and benefits due him; thus, rendering the instant petition moot and academic. He also contends that petitioner has no standing to file the case as it cannot be considered as an aggrieved party who can file the appeal, because it is neither respondent's employer nor has it any interest that was prejudiced by the CA decision. Finally, respondent argues that the PCSO failed to substantiate the charge against him.
In its Reply, petitioner contends that it has standing to file the petition, citing Philippine National Bank v. Garcia, Jr.; that it is the party adversely affected by the ruling of the CA which seriously prejudiced the administration of disciplinary justice in the bureaucracy; thus, it has a duty to intervene and represent the interest of the State to preserve the principles of public accountability.
The threshold issue for resolution is whether or not petitioner has legal standing to file the instant petition for review on certiorari assailing the CA ruling which reversed petitioner's decision.
We find that petitioner has no legal standing to file this petition.
In National Appellate Board of the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) v. Mamauag (Mamauag), citing Mathay, Jr, v. Court of Appeals, we ruled that the disciplining authority should not appeal the reversal of its decision and made the following ratiocination:
RA 6975 itself does
not authorize a private complainant to appeal a decision of the disciplining
authority. Sections 43 and 45 of RA 6975 authorize either party to appeal in
the instances that the law allows appeal. One party is the PNP
member-respondent when the disciplining authority imposes the penalty of
demotion or dismissal from the service. The other party is the government when
the disciplining authority imposes the penalty of demotion but the government
believes that dismissal from the service is the proper penalty.
However, the government party that can appeal is not the disciplining authority or tribunal which previously heard the case and imposed the penalty of demotion or dismissal from the service. The government party appealing must be the one that is prosecuting the administrative case against the respondent. Otherwise, an anomalous situation will result where the disciplining authority or tribunal hearing the case, instead of being impartial and detached, becomes an active participant in prosecuting the respondent. Thus, in Mathay, Jr. v. Court of Appeals, decided after Dacoycoy, the Court declared:
To be sure when the resolutions of
the Civil Service Commission were brought to the Court of Appeals, the Civil
Service Commission was included only as a nominal party. As a quasi-judicial
body, the Civil Service Commission can be likened to a judge who should
"detach himself from cases where his decision is appealed to a higher
court for review."
In instituting G.R. No. 126354, the Civil Service Commission dangerously departed from its role as adjudicator and became an advocate. Its mandated function is to "hear and decide administrative cases instituted by or brought before it directly or on appeal, including contested appointments and to review decisions and actions of its offices and agencies," not to litigate. (Emphasis supplied.)
In Office of the Ombudsman v. Sison, where the issue of whether the Ombudsman, which had rendered the decision pursuant to its administrative authority over public officers and employees, has the legal interest to intervene in the case where its decision was reversed on appeal, we ruled that it is not the proper party to intervene applying the above-quoted disquisition we made in Mamauag. We further stated that:
Clearly, the Office of the Ombudsman is not an appropriate party to intervene in the instant case. It must remain partial and detached. More importantly, it must be mindful of its role as an adjudicator, not an advocate.
It is an established doctrine that judges should detach themselves from cases where their decisions are appealed to a higher court for review. The raison d'etre for such a doctrine is the fact that judges are not active combatants in such proceeding and must leave the opposing parties to contend their individual positions and the appellate court to decide the issues without the judges' active participation. When judges actively participate in the appeal of their judgment, they, in a way, cease to be judicial and have become adversarial instead.
In Pleyto v. Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), the Court applied this doctrine when it held that the CA erred in granting the Motion to Intervene filed by the Office of the Ombudsman, to wit:
The court or the quasi-judicial agency must be detached and impartial, not only when hearing and resolving the case before it, but even when its judgment is brought on appeal before a higher court. The judge of a court or the officer of a quasi-judicial agency must keep in mind that he is an adjudicator who must settle the controversies between parties in accordance with the evidence and applicable laws, regulations and/or jurisprudence. His judgment should already clearly and completely state his findings of fact and law. There must be no more need for him to justify further his judgment when it is appealed before appellate courts. When the court judge or the quasi-judicial officer intervenes as a party in the appealed case, he inevitably forsakes his detachment and impartiality, and his interest in the case becomes personal since his objective now is no longer only to settle the controversy between the original parties (which he had already accomplished by rendering his judgment), but more significantly, to refute the appellant's assignment of errors, defend his judgment, and prevent it from being overturned on appeal. (Emphasis supplied.)
In Office of the Ombudsman v. Magno, we ruled that:
x x x Every decision rendered by the Ombudsman in an administrative case may be affirmed, but may also be modified or reversed on appeal - this is the very essence of appeal. In case of modification or reversal of the decision of the Ombudsman on appeal, it is the parties who bear the consequences thereof, and the Ombudsman itself would only have to face the error/s in fact or law that it may have committed which resulted in the modification or reversal of its decision.
Clearly, the government party that can appeal is not the
disciplining authority or tribunal which previously heard the case and imposed
the penalty of dismissal from the service. The government party appealing must
be one that is prosecuting the administrative case against the respondent. In
this case, it is the PCSO, through its then General Manager Golpeo, which filed
the administrative case against respondent for the latter's alleged act of
dishonesty in falsifying the OR and sales invoice he submitted in the
liquidation of his cash advance. Thus,
it is the PCSO which is deemed the prosecuting government party which can
appeal the CA decision exonerating respondent of the administrative charge. It
is the PCSO which would stand to suffer, since the CA decision also ordered
respondent's reinstatement, thus, the former would be compelled to take back to
its fold a perceived dishonest employee.
Notwithstanding, the PCSO did not file any petition assailing the CA
decision. In fact, the PCSO, through its
Board of Directors, adopted and approved Board Resolution No. 415 on
RESOLVED, that the Board of Directors of PCSO accept, as it hereby accepts, and to no longer appeal the Decisions of the Court of Appeals dated 17 May 2005 and 03 August 2006 reversing and setting aside the orders of the Ombudsman dismissing former PCSO Legal Department Manager Atty. Romeo A. Liggayu for Dishonesty and Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Interest of the Service, and ordering the payment of all the salaries and benefits due Atty. Liggayu from his suspension to the time of his attainment of his retirement age and to restore him all retirement benefits and privileges to which he is entitled, subject to the Civil Service Rules and Regulations, and the availability of funds and applicable accounting and auditing laws, rules and regulations.
Petitioner cites Philippine National Bank v. Garcia, Jr. (Garcia)
to show that it has legal interest to file this petition. In that case, the PNB charged its employee, Ricardo
V. Garcia, with gross neglect of duty in connection with the funds he had lost
in the amount of
P7 million. The PNBs Administration Adjudication
Office found him guilty as charged and imposed upon him the penalty of forced
resignation. On appeal, the Civil
Service Commission (CSC) exonerated Garcia from the administrative charge
against him. The PNB filed a petition
with the CA which dismissed the same, ruling that the only party adversely
affected by the decision, namely the government employee, may appeal an
administrative case. It held that a decision exonerating a respondent in an
administrative case is final and unappealable. Consequently, the PNB filed a
petition with us. In accordance with our ruling in Civil Service Commission v. Dacoycoy, we ruled that the PNB had the legal standing
to appeal to the CA the CSC resolution exonerating Garcia. We said that after all, PNB was the aggrieved
party which complained of Garcia's acts of dishonesty. Should Garcia be finally
exonerated, it might then be incumbent upon the PNB to take him back into its
fold. The PNB should, therefore, be
allowed to appeal a decision that, in its view, hampered its right to select
honest and trustworthy employees, so that it can protect and preserve its name
as a premier banking institution in the country.
PNB v. Garcia, Jr. is not on all fours with the present case. First, herein respondent was not exonerated of the administrative charge of dishonesty, gross misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, but was found guilty thereof by petitioner and was meted the penalty of dismissal. Thus, it was the respondent who filed the petition with the CA as the party aggrieved by petitioner's decision. Second, the PCSO, which is supposedly the party aggrieved in the CA decision, did not file any petition, but it was the petitioner - the administrative agency - which rendered the decision reversed by the CA. Third, PNB v. Garcia must be read together with Mathay, Jr. v. CA and National Appellate Board of the National Police Commission v. Mamauag wherein we qualified our declaration in CSC v. Dacoycoy which was cited in PNB v. Garcia that the government party that can appeal the decision in administrative cases must be the party prosecuting the case and not the disciplining authority or tribunal which heard the administrative case.
Considering that petitioner has no legal interest or standing to appeal and seek the nullification of the CA decision exonerating respondent from the administrative charge of dishonesty, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, we, therefore find no need to delve on the merits of this case.
the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
ROBERTO A. ABAD MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.
Associate Justice Associate Justice
ESTELA M. PERLAS-BERNABE
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Acting Chairperson, Third Division
I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Senior Associate Justice
(Per Section 12, R.A. 296,
The Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended)
* Per Special Order No. 1228 dated
Acting Member in lieu of Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza, Jr., per
Special Order No. 1241 dated
Acting Member in lieu of Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., per
Special Order No. 1229 dated
 Penned by Associate Justice Godardo A. Jacinto, with Associate Justices Bienvenido L. Reyes (now a member of this Court) and Rosalinda Asuncion-Vicente, concurring; rollo, pp. 34-54.
 Ombudsman rollo, p. 42.
 The dismissal was made because the incidents subject of the petition had become functus officio when petitioner rendered its decision in the main case which was also subsequently elevated to the CA.
 Rollo, pp. 75-83.
 CA rollo, pp. 424-425; In a Resolution dated July 31, 2002, the CA granted respondent's motion for substitution of then incumbent General Manager of the PCSO, Virgilio R. Angelo as the party respondent in the petition filed with the CA.
 Rollo, p. 22.
 G.R. No. 149999,
 G.R. No. 124374,
 NAPOLCOM v. Mamauag, supra note 28, at 641-642.
 Rollo, p. 122.
 Supra note 27.
 G.R. No. 135805,
 Supra note 27.
 Supra note 29.
 Supra note 28.
 Supra note 36.
 Supra note 27.