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G.R. No. 159747
April 13, 2004
Ombudsman has concurrent jurisdiction with the Department of Justice.
Senator Gringo Honasan was charged with the crime of coup detat before DOJ. , Capt. Gerardo Gambala, for and in
behalf of the military rebels occupying Oakwood, made a public statement aired on nation television, stating their
withdrawal of support to the chain of command of the AFP and the Government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
and they are willing to risk their lives in order to achieve the National Recovery Agenda of Sen. Honasan, which they
believe is the only program that would solve the ills of society. Subpoena was issued for preliminary investigation.
Petitioner filed a Motion for Clarification questioning DOJ's jurisdiction over the case, asserting that since the imputed
acts were committed in relation to his public office, it is the Office of the Ombudsman, not the DOJ, that has the
jurisdiction to conduct the corresponding preliminary investigation; that should the charge be filed in court, it is the
Sandiganbayan, not the regular courts, that can legally take cognizance of the case considering that he belongs to the
group of public officials with Salary Grade 31.
He is directed to file a counter-affidavit, but instead Senator Gregorio B. Honasan II filed the herein petition
for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court against the DOJ Panel and its members, CIDG-PNP-P/Director Eduardo
Matillano and Ombudsman Simeon V. Marcelo, attributing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the DOJ Panel in
issuing the aforequoted Order on the ground that the DOJ has no jurisdiction to conduct the preliminary investigation.
Honasans contention:
Ombudsman and not DOJ has the jurisdiction to conduct preliminary investigation over all public officials, including him
as he is a senator. Since, Honasan is charged with coup detat in relation to his office. As according the Article XI of the
1987 Constitution, it confers to the Ombudsman the power to investigate moto proprio, or by complaint of any person,
any act or omission that appears to be illegal, unjust, improper, or inefficient. Petitioner rationalizes that the 1987
Administrative Code and the Ombudsman Act of 1989 cannot prevail over the Constitution.
DOJs contention:
DOJ has the jurisdiction to conduct preliminary investigation pursuant to the Revised Administrative Code. And Coup
detat is not directly related to his public office as a senator. Thus, the jurisdiction of the DOJ is a statutory grant and is
not derived from provisions of the joint circular.
Ombudsman;s contention:
DOJ has the jurisdiction because coup detat falls under the Sandiganbayan only if its committed in relation to office.
Thus, Joint Circulat need not be published because it is merely an internal arrangement between DOJ and Ombudsman
and it neither regulates nor penalizes conduct of persons.
Issue: Whether or not DOJ has jurisdiction to conduct preliminary investigation over the charge of coup detat against
Senator Gringo Honasan II.
Held: The Court finds the petition without merit.
The jurisdiction of DOJ is not derived from the Joint Circular, OMB-DOJ Circular No. 95-001 but on the provisions of the
1987 Administrative Code under Chapter I, Title III, Book IV, governing the DOJ. Sec. 1. As a principal law agency
which shall be both its legal counsel and prosecution arm; administer the criminal justice system in accordance
with the accepted processes thereof consisting in the investigation of the crimes, prosecution of offenders and
administration of the correctional system; and investigate the commission of crimes, prosecute offenders and
administer the probation and correction system. Thus, in Section 13(1), it does not exclude other government
agencies tasked by law to investigate and prosecute public officials. However, under Ombudsman Act of 1987, was
enacted empowering Ombudsman with primary jurisdiction over cognizable cases by Sandiganbayan. It may take over,
at any stage, from any investigatory agency of the government. Moreover, Ombudsman recognizes its concurrent
jurisdiction with other investigative body of the government.
Petitioner insists that the Ombudsman has jurisdiction to conduct the preliminary investigation because petitioner is a
public officer with salary Grade 31 so that the case against him falls exclusively within the jurisdiction of the
Sandiganbayan. Considering the Court's finding that the DOJ has concurrent jurisdiction to investigate charges against
public officers, the fact that petitioner holds a Salary Grade 31 position does not by itself remove from the DOJ Panel
the authority to investigate the charge of coup d'etat against him.