Ombudsman vs De Leon (G.R. No. 154083 February 27, 2013)

Office of the Ombudsman vs De Leon
G.R. No. 154083 February 27, 2013

Facts: Acting on a report of illegal quarrying being committed in the Municipality of Baras, Rizal, Graft Investigation Officer Dante D. Tornilla of the Fact Finding Investigation Bureau (FFIB) of the Office of the Ombudsman conducted an investigation pursuant to a mission order dated April 17, 1998. On June 8, 1998, Tornilla filed his report to Ombudsman Aniano Desierto, through Assistant Ombudsman Abelardo L. Aportadera, Jr. and Director Agapito B. Rosales, confirming the illegal quarrying. Tornilla recommended that a preliminary investigation be conducted against  Baras  Municipal Mayor Roberto Ferrera, Baras Municipal Planning and Coordinator Jonathan Llagas, and property owner Venancio Javier for the probable violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act); and that administrative proceedings for violations of the Civil Service Rules be also undertaken. In his report and recommendation dated July 13, 1998, DILG Resident Ombudsman Rudiger G. Falcis II sought the inclusion in the investigation of De Leon as the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) and as concurrently the Chairman of the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) of Rizal. After the preliminary investigation, Graft Investigation Officer II Edgardo V. Geraldez of the FFIB, Office of the Ombudsman, issued a decision dated April 29, 1999, dismissing the complaint against all the respondents for lack of substantial evidence. However, Assistant Ombudsman Aportadera, Jr. recommended the disapproval of the said decision.  Ombudsman Desierto approved the recommendation of Assistant Ombudsman Aportadera, Jr. The case was then referred to Atty. Sabino M. Cruz, Resident Ombudsman for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), who ultimately submitted a memorandum on October 20, 1999,  duly approved by the Ombudsman, finding De Leon liable for gross neglect of duty.

Issues: Whether or not respondent is liable for gross neglect of duty.

Whether or not the decisions of the Ombudsman is final and immediately executory.

Held: Yes. Gross neglect of duty or gross negligence “refers to negligence characterized by the want of even slight care, or by acting or omitting to act in a situation where there is a duty to act, not inadvertently but wilfully and intentionally, with a conscious indifference to the consequences, insofar as other persons may be affected. It is the omission of that care that even inattentive and thoughtless men never fail to give to their own property.” It denotes a flagrant and culpable refusal or unwillingness of a person to perform a duty. In cases involving public officials, gross negligence occurs when a breach of duty is flagrant and palpable.

In contrast, simple neglect of duty means the failure of an employee or official to give proper attention to a task expected of him or her, signifying a “disregard of a duty resulting from carelessness or indifference.

Conformably with these concepts, De Leon, given his rank and level of responsibility, was guilty of gross neglect in not performing the act expected of him as the PENRO under the circumstances obtaining. He was precisely assigned to perform tasks that imposed on him the obligation to do everything reasonably necessarily and permissible under the law in order to achieve the objectives of environmental protection. He could not feign ignorance of the Government’s current efforts to control or prevent environmental deterioration from all hazards, including uncontrolled mining and unregulated illegal quarrying, but he chose to be passive despite clear indications of the illegal quarrying activities that had been first brought to his official attention as early as in 1997 by Teresita Fabian of the Provincial Tourism Office of Rizal. The most that he did on the complaint was to dispatch two of his subordinates to verify the report of quarrying. After the subordinates returned with the information that there were no quarrying activities at the site, he was apparently content with their report. He was not even spurred into further action by the subordinates’ simultaneous report on having observed at the site the presence of earthmoving equipment (specifically, a backhoe and a payloader). Had he been conscientious, the presence of the earth moving equipment would have quickly alerted him to the high probability of their being used in quarrying activities at the site. We presume that he was not too obtuse to sense such high probability. The seriousness of the matter should have prodded him to take further actions, including personally inspecting the site himself either to confirm the findings of the subordinates or to satisfy himself that the earthmoving equipment was not being used for quarrying. By merely denying having granted any permit or unwarranted benefit to any quarry operator, he seemingly considered the report of his subordinates satisfactory.

Yes. An appeal shall not stop the decision from being executory. In case the penalty is suspension or removal and the respondent wins such appeal, he shall be considered as having been under preventive suspension and shall be paid the salary and such other emoluments that he did not receive by reason of the suspension or removal.

On 15 September 2003, AO 17 was issued, amending Rule III of the  Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman. Thus, Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman was further amended and now reads:

Section 7. Finality and execution of decision. – Where the respondent is absolved of the charge, and 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 decision shall be final, executory and unappealable. In all other cases, the decision may be appealed to the Court of Appeals on a verified petition for review under the requirements and conditions set forth in Rule 43 of the Rules of Court, within fifteen (15) days from the receipt of the written Notice of the Decision or Order denying the Motion for Reconsideration.


Bondoc vs Mantala (GR No. 203080 November 12, 2014)

Bondoc vs Mantala
GR No. 203080 November 12, 2014

Facts: Respondent was admitted at the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Hospital (OMPH) on April 3, 2009, at around 11:00am, with referral from the Bansud Municipal Health Office. She was due to deliver her 5th child and was advised for a caesarian section because her baby was big and there was excessive amniotic fluid in her womb. She started to labor at 7:00am and was initially brought to the Bongabon Health Center. However, said health center also told her to proceed directly to the hospital. In her complaint-affidavit, respondent alleged that inside the delivery room of OMPH, she was attended to by petitioner who instructed the midwife and two younger assistants to press down on respondent’s abdomen and even demonstrated to them how to insert their fingers into her vagina. Thereafter, petitioner went out of the delivery room and later, his assistants also left. After hours of being in labor, respondent pleaded for a caesarian section. The midwife and the younger assistants pressed down on her abdomen causing excruciating pains on her ribs and made her very weak. They repeatedly did this pressing until the bay and placenta came out. When she regained consciousness, she was already at the recovery room, she learned that an operation was performed on her by petitioner to removed her ruptured uterus but what depressed her most was her stillborn baby and the loss of her reproductive capacity. The respondent noticed that her vulva swollen and there is an open wound which widened later on and was re-stitched by petitioner. Petitioner was heard uttering words unbecoming of his profession pertaining to the respondent’s states while in labor. Respondent filed then a complaint for grave misconduct against the petitioner before the ombudsman. The petitioner resigned as medical officer of OMPH, alleging that the complaint against him is now moot and academic.

Issue: Whether or not petitioner’s conduct during the delivery of respondent’s baby constitute grave misconduct.

Held: Yes. Misconduct is defined as a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, more particularly unlawful behavior or gross negligence by a public officer, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, willful in character, and implies wrongful intent and not mere error in judgement. It generally means wrongful, improper or unlawful conduct motivated by a premeditated, obstinate or intentional purpose. The term, however does not necessarily imply corruption or criminal intent. To constitute an administrative offense, misconduct should relate to or be connected with the performance of the official functions and duties of a public officer. On the other hand, when the elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law or flagrant disregard of established rule are manifest, the public officer shall be liable for grave misconduct.

In deliberately leaving the respondent to a midwife and two inexperienced assistants despite knowing that she was under prolonged painful labor and about to give birth to a macrosomic baby by vaginal delivery, petitioner clearly committed a dereliction of duty and a breach of his professional obligations. The gravity of respondent’s conditions is highlighted by the expected complications she suffered – her stillborn baby, a ruptured uterus that necessitated the immediate surgery and blood transfusion and vulvar hematomas.

Article II section 1 of the code of medical ethics of the medical profession in the Philippines states: A physician, should attend to his patients faithfully and conscientiously. He should secure fore them all possible benefits that may depend upon his professional skill and care. As the sole tribunal to adjudge the physician’s failure to fulfill his obligation to his patient is, in most cases, his own conscience, violation of this rule on his part is discreditable and inexcusable.

A doctor’s duty to his patient is not required to be extraordinary. The standard contemplated for doctors is simply the reasonable coverage merit among ordinarily good physicians i.e. reasonable skill and competence. Even by this standard, petitioner fill short when he routinely delegated an important task that requires his professional skill and competence to his subordinates who have no requisite training and capability to make crucial decisions in difficult child births.

A physician should be dedicated to provide competent medical care with full professional skill and accordance with the current standards of care, compassion, independence, and respect for human dignity.