Supreme Court nixes plaint against Capitol

Posted on August 4, 2011


The Supreme Court dismissed a petition for certiorari filed by ecology lawyers against Capitol officials and the Ombudsman recently.

The petition filed by the Global Legal Action Against Climate Change (GLACC) stemmed from the Capitol’s alleged failure in 2009 to provide them documents on an agreement with the Korean Electric Co. to build a coal ash waste facility in barangay Tina-an, Naga City.

The High Court said the petitioners failed to provide a complete set of dates and sufficient evidence that Capitol officials and “the Ombudsman-Visayas committed grave abuse of discretion.”

Cebu ecology lawyers Gloria Estenzo-Ramos and Benjamin Cabrido of GLACC filed the petition for certiorari last May after the Ombudsman dismissed their administrative complaint.

They said the respondents should be held liable for violating the Anti-Red Tape Act and Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

They said Ombudsman Merceditias Gutierrez gravely abused her discretion and took lightly the clear provisions of law about the duty of public officials to provide public documents requested by the public.

The lawyers elevated their case to the Supreme Court after the Ombudsman dismissed their administrative complaint against Capitol officials.
A copy of the en banc order was showed by Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia during yesterday’s press conference.

Her daughter, Capitol consultant Christina Codilla-Frasco said the two Cebu lawyers will be facing “legal consequences” for filing the complaints.

“Filing frivolous, harassing, baseless, trumped-up complaint petitions or charges against any individual of course has its consequences especially if that complaint is dismissed,” she said.

Ombudsman Gutierrez dismissed the complaint last April 25, four days before handing her resignation to President Aquino.

Gutierrez agreed with the Capitol’s argument that the anti-red tape law covers employees in “frontline services” or those involved in processing of applications and other documents.

The former Ombudsman said the Capitol didn’t ignore the request of the two lawyers since Capitol consultant Rory Jon Sepulveda announced in a press conference the availability of the documents in August last year.
Gutierrez noted that Sepulveda asked the lawyers to get them from the office. The administrative cases were filed by GLACC against the Capitol officials in 2009 after pointing out the risk of pollution and health hazards from dumping coal ash wastes of power plants. /Correspondent Carmel Loise Matus