SC urged to void TRO on suspension of ERC commissioners
The Alyansa Para Sa Bagong Pilipinas, Inc. (ABP) on Tuesday filed a petition for certiorari asking the Supreme Court to void the Court of Appeals’ issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) that lifted the suspension of the four Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) officials earlier found by the Ombudsman of colluding with power firms.
Citing the Ombudsman’s independence in undertaking administrative investigations of erring officials, the ABP’s petition said the appellate court had committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction by issuing a TRO holding the ERC commissioners’ one-year suspension in abeyance.
Commissioners Alfredo Non, Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc, Josefina Patricia Asirit, and Geronimo Sta. Ana were suspended by the Ombudsman in December last year after exempting Meralco and other firms from the competitive selection process (CSP), which mandates that all power supply agreements (PSAs) be covered by public bidding.
On Feb. 9, 2018, the CA issued a 60-day TRO against the said suspension.
In its petition to the SC, the ABP argued that the CA has no discretion to stay a decision of the Ombudsman and that the TRO is an encroachment on the rule-making powers of the Ombudsman under the Constitution.
The ABP said the Ombudsman’s suspension of ERC commissioners should have been immediately executory.
“A decision of the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative cases shall be executed as a matter of course. 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,” the petition said.
“The nature of appealable decisions of the Ombudsman was, in fact, settled in Ombudsman v. Samaniego, where it was held that such are immediately executory pending appeal and may not be stayed by the filing of an appeal or the issuance of an injunctive writ,” the ABP argued.
The ABP said the CA “clearly committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing a TRO against an appealable decision of the Office of the Ombudsman in an administrative case.”
The ABP asked the SC to preserve the status quo of the Ombudsman’ s one-year suspension of the ERC officials and declare the CA TRO null and void.
They also urged the SC to restrain the appellate court and anyone acting in behalf of the ERC commissioners from implementing the Ombudsman’s suspension order./au
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