ISSUE: Whether or not the Office of the Ombudsman has the authority to impose administrative sanctions over public officials
FACTS: The San Juan School Club filed a letter-complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman charging Gertrudes Madriaga, school principal of San Juan Elementary School and Ana Marie Bernardo, Canteen Manager of the same school, with violation of Section 1 of Rule IV and Section 1 of Rule VI of the Rules Implementing Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6713 otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. They were subsequently found guilty of the offense charged. Consequently, they were meted out the penalty of six (6) months imprisonment. On appeal, the Court of Appeals declared that the six-month suspension meted out by the Office of the Ombudsman to Madriaga and Bernardo (Gertrudes) is merely recommendatory to the Department of Education, the Office of the Ombudsman filed the present Petition for Review on Certiorari.
RATIO DECIDENDI: Article XI, Section 13 of the 1987 Constitution grants the Ombudsman administrative disciplinary power to direct the officer concerned to take appropriate action against a public official or employee at fault, and recommend his removal, suspension, demotion, fine, censure, or prosecution, and ensure compliance therewith. Section 15(3) of R.A. No. 6770 echoes the constitutional grant to the Ombudsman of the power to ―recommend‖ the imposition of penalty on erring public officials and employees and ensure compliance therewith. The Court notes that the proviso above qualifies the "order" "to remove, suspend, demote, fine, censure, or prosecute" an officer or employee — akin to the questioned issuances in the case at bar. That the refusal, without just cause, of any officer to comply with such an order of the Ombudsman to penalize an erring officer or employee is a ground for disciplinary action, is a strong indication that the Ombudsman's "recommendation" is not merely advisory in nature but is actually mandatory within the bounds of law. This should not be interpreted as usurpation by the Ombudsman of the authority of the head of office or any officer concerned. It has long been settled that the power of the Ombudsman to investigate and prosecute any illegal act or omission of any public official is not an exclusive authority but a shared or concurrent authority in respect of the offense charged. By stating therefore that the Ombudsman "recommends" the action to be taken against an erring officer or employee, the provisions in the Constitution and in R.A. 6770 intended that the implementation of the order be coursed through the proper officer, which in this case would be the head of the BID. The word "recommend" in Sec. 15(3) must thus be read in conjunction with the phrases "ensure compliance therewith" or "enforce its disciplinary authority as provided in Section 21" of R.A. No. 6770. In fine, the Ombudsman's authority to impose administrative penalty and enforce compliance therewith is not merely recommendatory. It is mandatory within the bounds of the law. The implementation of the order imposing the penalty is, however, to be coursed through the proper officer.