The Powers of the Ombudsman

The Office of the Ombudsman is endowed with a wide latitude of investigating power, virtually free from legislative, executive and judicial intrusion. (Perez v. Office of the Ombudsman, G.R. No. 141445, May 27, 2004, 426 SCRA 357). The Ombudsman and his deputies are designated by the Constitution as protectors of the people, who are thus required to act promptly on complaints against public officers of the government or any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof. (Sec. 12, Article XI, Constitution). The general investigation on the Office of the Ombudsman is precisely for the purpose of protecting those against whom a complaint is filed against hasty, malicious and oppressive prosecution as much as securing the State from useless and expensive trials. (Almonte v. Vasquez, G.R. No. 95367, May 23, 1995, 244 SCRA 286). Moreover, the reason for the creation of the Ombudsman in the 1987 Constitution and for the grant to it of broad investigative authority is to insulate said office from the long tentacles of officialdom that are able to penetrate the judges’ and other fiscals’ offices, and others involved in the prosecution of erring public officials, and through the exertion of official pressure and influence, quash, delay or dismiss investigations into malfeasances and misfeasances committed by public officers. (Deloso v. Domingo, G.R. No. 90591, November 21, 1990, 191 SCRA 545).

To achieve the objectives of the Constitution, the Office of the Ombudsman is empowered to administer oaths, issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum, and take testimony in any investigation or inquiry, including the power to examine and have access to bank accounts and records which may be delegated to the deputy or its investigator to ensure the effective exercise or performance of the power, functions, and duties therein as provided in the law. in any investigation under the law, the Ombudsman may examine and access any record, file, document or paper in any office, agency or commission or tribunal. Delay or refusal to comply with the referral or directive of the Ombudsman or any of his deputies constitutes a ground for administrative disciplinary action against the officers or employee concerned. Indeed, non-performance of an act which ought to be performed, omission to perform a required duty at all, or total neglect of duty constitutes nonfeasance.