CA junks former COA director’s plea

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet  – The former 13th Division of the Court of Appeals (CA) denied the motion for reconsideration filed by a former regional director of the Cordillera office of the Commission on Audit (COA-CAR) seeking to reverse its previous decision to uphold a decision of the Office of the Ombudsman that ordered him suspended for three months without pay for alleged violation of the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards of Public Officials and Employee.

In a 3 page resolution denying the motion for reconsideration filed by former COA-CAR regional director Luis S. Mejia, Jr., the CA stated that the court earlier dismissed his petition for certiorari considering that he allegedly failed to demonstrate that the Ombudsman gravely abused its discretion in concluding that substantial evidence established his culpability for violating RA6713, specifically on his alleged failure to replay to communication letters within the required 15-day reglamentary period.

The CA ruled that although Mejia imputed grave abuse of secretion on the part of the Ombudsman in ordering his suspension from work without pay, the issues that he raised in his petition did not concern any error of jurisdiction, but, at most, errors of judgement which the Ombudsman committed in the exercise of its jurisdiction over the appealed decision.

Earlier the Ombudsman found Mejia guilty of violation of Section 5(a) of RA 7613 and ordered him suspended for 3 months without pay because of his alleged failure to reply to formal inquiries raised by Salvador Liked during the prescribed 15-day reglamentary period.

In his motion for reconsideration, Mejia argued that if the Ombudsman’s decision will not be reversed, the court will be giving an imprimatur to the Ombudsman’s alleged illogical and absurd interpretation of Section 5(a) of RA 6713 and insisted that he was able to establish that the Ombudsman used irrelevant considerations, failed to consider the factors relevant to its determination and misapplied the facts and the law in issuing its decision.

The CA stated that it was not persuaded by Mejia’s arguments stating that in certiorari proceedings, judicial review does not examine and assess the evidence of the parties nor weigh the privative value of the evidence and it does not include an inquiry on the correctness of the evaluation of the evidence.

The CA decision added that a review under Rule 65 only asks the question of whether there has been a validly rendered decision, not the question of whether the decision, not the question of whether the decision is legally correct, thus, the purpose of the review is to determine whether the judgement per se void on jurisdictional grounds.

The CA still found nothing in Mejia’s petition and motion for reconsideration that will support his claim that the Ombudsman acted on a capricious, whimsical, arbitrary or despotic manner in the exercise of its jurisdiction, as to be equivalent to lack of jurisdiction or grave abuse of discretion when it rendered the assailed decision and that Mejia’s allegation of alleged misapplication of facts and flawed conclusions on the part of the Ombudsman, at most, would only amount to error on judgement, not of jurisdiction, and therefore not within the province of a special civil action for certiorari.

The CA stipulated the erroneous conclusions based on evidence do not, by the mere fact that errors were committed, rise to the level of grave abuse of discretion and that Mejia did not raise any argument to convince the court that its ruling is contrary to the facts and the law and ought to be considered.

The CA handed down the resolution last February 13, 2018 which stated that its decision dated December 11, 2017 denying Mejia’s petition for certiorari remains unreconsidered.

Mejia reportedly served the penalty imposed by the Ombudsman for his alleged suspension for three months without pay while appealing the assailed decision to the CA.



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