- Apolinario v. Flores
- G.R. No. 152780
- CARPIO, J :
- Decision Date
G.R. No. 152780. January 22, 2007.
LIGAYA M. APOLINARIO, petitioner, vs. DESIREE B. FLORES, respondent.
D E C I S I O N
CARPIO, J p:
This is a petition for review of the Decision dated 27 February 2002 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 63186. The appellate court affirmed the Decision dated 21 September 2000 of the Office of the Ombudsman in OMB-ADM-1-99-0821 finding petitioner Ligaya M. Apolinario (petitioner) guilty of dishonesty and penalizing her with six months suspension from the service.
On 24 September 1999, the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon (Deputy Ombudsman) received a sworn letter-complaint and affidavit from respondent Desiree B. Flores (respondent) against petitioner for falsifying her daily time record (DTR). Respondent alleged that petitioner knowingly falsified her time entries in her DTR as evidenced by the official general daily attendance record (GDAR). Respondent stated that the National Food Authority (NFA) Regional Office conducted an investigation as early as September 1998 and the fact-finding team already submitted an investigation report dated 7 October 1998. However, the case remained pending prompting respondent to file the complaint.
In her counter-affidavit dated 8 November 1999, petitioner denied falsifying the entries in her DTRs. Petitioner explained that the entries in her DTR were based not only from the GDAR but also from "other attendance monitoring sheets like pass-outs (official/personal), travel authority, travel permits, and vehicle requisition slips" and these are all on file in the NFA Provincial Office.
The Deputy Ombudsman docketed the complaint for falsification of public document as OMB-1-99-1970. In a Resolution dated 10 April 2000, the Deputy Ombudsman dismissed the complaint because the investigation report was still under evaluation by the NFA Regional Office. However, the Deputy Ombudsman's 10 April 2000 Resolution approved the re-docketing of the complaint as CPL.
Subsequently, the complaint was re-docketed as OMB-CPL-1-00-0006 for falsification and dishonesty. In a Fact-Finding and Investigation Report dated 28 July 2000, the Deputy Ombudsman decided to consider the case closed. The decision was based on the reply of Juanito M. David (David), NFA Regional Administrator, to the Deputy Ombudsman's query on the status of the investigation. David reported that (1) in a case filed by a certain Mrs. Nimfa Cuaresma (Mrs. Cuaresma), the Civil Service Commission (CSC) found petitioner guilty of simple misconduct and ordered her suspension for six months; (2) the NFA Regional Office already issued Special Order No. ROI-II-006 dated 24 August 1998 transferring petitioner to the Baguio office; and (3) another case had been filed by Mrs. Cuaresma against petitioner before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Lingayen, Pangasinan. CITDES
On the other hand, the Deputy Ombudsman docketed the complaint for dishonesty as OMB-ADM-1-99-0821. In a Decision dated 21 September 2000, the Ombudsman found substantial evidence to hold petitioner guilty of dishonesty and suspended her for six months. The Decision reads:
After a careful perusal of the records on bar, this Office adopts the result of the NFA Fact-Finding Investigation regarding the absence of the personal or official pass-out slips as required by the NFA per Office Memorandum 79 No. 19 (par. 2, Item 2) dated 27 February 1978 which states that:
". . . the official errand shall be covered by a Pass-out Slip. The Pass-out Slip shall be accomplished in duplicate, the Original to be retained by the Directorate/Office for attachment to the time card for payroll processing, if the official business would not enable the employee to punch in or out his time card on the specified hours. The duplicate shall be surrendered to the ground security guard. The form shall bear the initials of the immediate supervisor and the signature of the Division Chief concerned . . . .
13. Also, under Item 4 of said Memorandum, it mandates that all employees are required to report to their respective posts in the morning before they go out on their official errands. Should it be necessary that the employee go directly to the place of errands from his residence, the Pass-out slip may be accomplished later (Annex "A-7")."
The NFA Fact-Finding Team found out that: "no pass-out slips for the months of June and July 1995 could be located at the NFA-Lingayen, Pangasinan Provincial Office nor at the NFA Regional Office. Only the pass-out slips for the months of August, September, October, November and December 1995 were found intact. Examination, however, of said pass-outs on file and original copies of DTR submitted to the Regional Office totally negates the claim of Mrs. Apolinario that the tardiness and absences which were not truthfully recorded in her DTRs could have been covered by pass-out slips, Travel Authority or Trip Permits. This finding was substantiated by a certification issued by Manager Roberto S. Musngi of NFA-Western Pangasinan re: Non-existence of Pass-out Slips in the name of Ligaya Apolinario during the above stated months (Exh."J") (Annex "A-7").
Respondent failed to produce her pass-out slips, travel authority or trip permits for the months of June and July 1995 before the NFA Fact Finding Team or before this office to buttress her contention that she was on official business when her tardiness and absences were recorded in the General Daily Attendance Record. Hence, the allegation that she falsified her entries for the aforesaid period in her Daily Time Record remains uncontroverted.
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration. Petitioner claimed that the issues and subject matter of OMB-ADM-1-99-0821 were already dismissed by the Ombudsman in the 10 April 2000 Resolution in OMB-1-99-1970 and closed in the 28 July 2000 Report in OMB-CPL-1-00-0006. Petitioner prayed for the dismissal of OMB-ADM-1-99-0821 on the ground that her constitutional protection against double jeopardy had been violated.
The Ombudsman denied the motion. The Ombudsman explained that the prohibition against double jeopardy finds application only in criminal cases. If ever the prohibition against double jeopardy applied in administrative cases, it would still not apply in this case because OMB-1-99-1970 was not dismissed on the merits but because the investigation report was not yet approved by the NFA Regional Office. On OMB-CPL-1-00-0006, the Ombudsman explained that the case was closed "on the wrong premise" that the CSC suspended petitioner for six months on the same incident subject of the case. The Ombudsman later learned that the complainants in the CSC case were Ramon and Nimfa Cuaresma and that the complaint involved different issues and allegations. EaISDC
Petitioner filed a petition for review in the Court of Appeals.
The Ruling of the Court of Appeals
In its 27 February 2002 Decision, the Court of Appeals dismissed petitioner's petition and affirmed the Ombudsman's 21 September 2000 Decision. The appellate court held:
It is settled that the elements of res judicata are: (1) there must be a final judgment or order; (2) the court rendering it must have jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; (3) there must be between the two cases, identity of parties, subject matter and causes of action. The ultimate test in ascertaining the identity of causes of action is said to be to look into whether or not sic the same evidence fully supports and establishes both the present cause of action and the former cause of action. In the present petition, the third element is lacking. The petitioner was separately charged for different offenses before the Deputy sic Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon. The present petition for review is of the Decision rendered by the Ombudsman in OMB-ADM-1-99-0821. There is therefore no identity of subject matter to speak of. The Resolution dated April 10, 2000 in OMB-1-99-1970 involves the offense of Falsification of Public Document. The administrative offense for which Apolinario was charged in OMB-ADM-1-99-0821 is for Dishonesty. While it is true that the initial recommendation in the Fact-Finding and Investigation Report (docketed as OMB-CPL-1-00-0006 for Falsification and Dishonesty) is to consider the complaint closed and terminated, two final separate resolutions by the same Office refer to the separate and distinct offenses of first, Dishonesty, and second, Falsification of Public Document. Neither therefore is the doctrine of double jeopardy advanced by the petitioner in the pleadings filed with this Court applicable since it is clear that she has been charged with two separate and distinct offenses.
Petitioner further contends that the findings of the Office of the Ombudsman are allegedly not supported by substantial evidence.
Substantial evidence means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. The quantum of proof required in proceedings before administrative agencies is "substantial evidence" not overwhelming or preponderance.
In the present petition, Ligaya M. Apolinario did not challenge the validity or authenticity of the General Daily Attendance Record reflecting her attendance. Though she offered an explanation for the incongruity between the General Daily Attendance Record and her Daily Time Record, the fact-finding team of the National Food Authority, after an exhaustive investigation, found that "pass-outs on file and original copies of DTR submitted to the Regional Office totally negates the claim of Mrs. Apolinario (emphasis ours) that the tardiness and absences which were not truthfully recorded in her DTRs could have been covered by pass-out slips, Travel Authority or Trip Permits." In short, there is clear evidence Apolinario was indeed dishonest in filling out her daily time record. The factual findings of the investigation conducted by the Investigating Team have not been challenged. Nor were these controverted by petitioner who has been unable to present evidence to prove otherwise. Her explanations for the incongruity between the General Daily Attendance Record and her Daily Time Record are not sufficient to overcome the charge of Dishonesty considering the two apparent facts that it was she who filled the Daily Time Record, and that she did not correctly indicate therein her absences and tardiness, which are reflected in the General Daily Attendance Record. She claims that she went on official business trips during the dates she was tardy and absent as reflected in the General Daily Attendance Record but she failed to produce any pass-out slip, Travel Authority or Trip Permit which she must secure pursuant to internal office regulations. The Investigating Team was unable to find copies of the pass-out slips, Travel Authority or Trip Permit for the dates she claims she went on official business trips which she should have given to the proper officer concerned and kept on file in the Regional Offices following Office Memorandum 79 No. 19 dated 27 February, 1978. Neither do we find the explanation that these documents kept in the Office were lost during the onslaught of the typhoon "Gading" tenable considering that the Investigating Team was able to find other slips or permits intact in the Office files. All told, petitioner's explanation cannot overcome the overwhelming evidence presented against presented sic against sic her to prove that she did not disclose the truth in the entries she made in her General Daily Attendance Record and her Daily Time Record. (Emphasis in the original.) cTaDHS
Hence, this petition. Petitioner now reiterates her claim that the Ombudsman should have dismissed OMB-ADM-1-99-0821 considering that the Ombudsman had previously dismissed the "same" complaint. Petitioner also insists that the findings of the Ombudsman were not supported by substantial evidence.
In her Memorandum, respondent explained that she filed two complaints against petitioner: (1) an administrative complaint for dishonesty and (2) a criminal complaint for estafa thru falsification of public document. Respondent added that, although based on the same facts and evidence, the dismissal of the criminal case did not automatically lead to the dismissal of the administrative case. Besides, the Deputy Ombudsman dismissed the criminal case not on the merits but on the ground the NFA Regional Office had not yet approved the Investigation Report. As the Ombudsman explained, OMB-CPL-1-00-0006 was closed "on the wrong premise" that the CSC's decision referred to the same complaint for falsification of public documents.
Petitioner raised the following issues:
1. Whether the Court of Appeals erred in affirming the decision of the Ombudsman considering that the "same" complaint had been previously dismissed; and
2 Whether the Court of Appeals erred in affirming that the findings of the Ombudsman were supported by substantial evidence.
The Ruling of the Court
The petition has no merit.
Petitioner contends that the dismissal of OMB-1-99-1970 and the termination of OMB-CPL-1-00-0006 are valid grounds to dismiss OMB-ADM-1-99-0821. Petitioner argues that the "same" complaint, having been dismissed by the Ombudsman, is now res judicata and thus, bars the Ombudsman from hearing the complaint for dishonesty.
The Court notes that, for falsifying petitioner's DTR, respondent filed two complaints against petitioner. The first was a criminal complaint for estafa thru falsification of public document and the second was an administrative complaint for dishonesty. The Ombudsman docketed the criminal case as OMB-1-99-1970 for falsification of public document, which was later re-docketed as OMB-CPL-1-00-0006 for falsification and dishonesty, and the administrative case as OMB-ADM-1-99-0821 for dishonesty.
In , we ruled that:
It is a basic principle of the law on public officers that a public official or employee is under a three-fold responsibility for violation of a duty or for a wrongful act or omission. This simply means that a public officer may be held civilly, criminally, and administratively liable for a wrongful doing. Thus, if such violation or wrongful act results in damages to an individual, the public officer may be held civilly liable to reimburse the injured party. If the law violated attaches a penal sanction, the erring officer may be punished criminally. Finally, such violation may also lead to suspension, removal from office, or other administrative sanctions. This administrative liability is separate and distinct from the penal and civil liabilities. (Italics in the original.) THAECc
Thus, the dismissal of the criminal complaint did not necessarily foreclose the continuation of the administrative action or carry with it relief from administrative liability. The Office of the Ombudsman did not err when it proceeded with the determination of petitioner's administrative liability despite the dismissal of the criminal complaint.
The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that res judicata did not set in because there is no identity of causes of action. Moreover, the decision of the Ombudsman cannot be considered a valid and final judgment. On the criminal complaint, the Ombudsman only had the power to investigate and file the appropriate case before the Sandiganbayan.
Petitioner's claim that her constitutional protection against double jeopardy was violated has no merit.
Double jeopardy attaches only: (1) upon a valid indictment; (2) before a competent court; (3) after arraignment; (4) when a valid plea has been entered; and (5) when the defendant was acquitted or convicted or the case was dismissed or otherwise terminated without the express consent of the accused. None of these applies to the present case. The Ombudsman only conducted a preliminary investigation in OMB-1-99-1970 and OMB-CPL-1-00-0006. Hence, double jeopardy will not lie.
Finally, the Court notes that the Ombudsman and the appellate court found substantial evidence to prove petitioner's administrative liability. The Court affirms this finding following the rule that factual findings of administrative bodies, when supported by substantial evidence, are entitled to great weight and respect on appeal.
WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition. We AFFIRM the 27 February 2002 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 63186.
Quisumbing, Carpio-Morales, Tinga and Velasco, Jr., JJ., concur.
1. Under Rule 45 of the
2. Penned by Associate Justice Josefina Guevara-Salonga with Associate Justices Godardo A. Jacinto and Eloy R. Bello, Jr., concurring.
3. Rollo, pp. 45-48.
4. CA rollo, p. 43.
5. Id. at 44-46.
6. Petitioner was being investigated for the following charges:
1. Falsification of official documents;
2. Intriguing against honor of employees;
3. Immoral conduct;
4. Neglect of duty;
5. Soliciting or accepting directly or indirectly any gift, favor, loan or anything of monetary value in the course of her official duties or in connection with NFA's business transactions which may be affected by the functions of her office; and
6. Contracting loans of money or other property from persons with whom the NFA has business relations or other private parties.
7. Rollo, pp. 56-76.
8. Id. at 52-54.
9. Id. at 77-79.
10. The 10 April 2000 Resolution states: "WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant case is hereby recommended DISMISSED and the same be redocketed as CPL." Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Jesus F. Guerrero approved the Resolution. HaEScI
11. Rollo, pp. 80-81.
12. Id. at 45-48.
13. Id. at 46-47.
14. Under Rule 43 of the
15. Rollo, pp. 42-44.
16. Id. at 111-115.
17. 376 Phil. 191, 198-199 (1999).
18. , A.M. No. P-89-290, 29 January 1993, 218 SCRA 1; , No. L-34230, 31 March 1980, 96 SCRA 819.
19. , 323 Phil. 596 (1996).
20. , G.R. No. 154521, 30 September 2005, 471 SCRA 589.