MANILA –The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted the petition of certiorari filed by former Special Prosecutor Dennis M. Villa-Ignacio of the Office of the Ombudsman and dismissed the estafa cases filed against him by Ombudsman.
SC spokesman Theodore Te said the directive was issued following Tuesday’s regular en banc session of the magistrates.
Te said the high court granted the petition for certiorari filed Villa-Ignacio who questioned the regularity of the proceedings that led to the filing of criminal case against him.
“The petition for certiorari filed by petitioner Dennis Villa-Ignacio is granted. The resolution dated 4 February 2010 and joint order dated 4 June 2010 of the Office of the Ombudsman are reversed an set aside. The Information for estafa before the Sandiganbayan is dismissed,” Te said.
In granting Villa-Ignacio’s petition, the high court said the Office of the Ombudsman committed grave abuse of discretion for failure to follow their own rules.
Under the Ombudsman rules, the chair and vice chair of the Internal Affairs Board (IAB) shall be automatically disqualified from acting on any proceeding if he belongs to the same component as any of the parties to the case.
The high court also noted that it is highly questionable for the Ombudsman to change its rules in the middle of the proceedings.
“Changing regulations in the middle of the proceedings without reason, violates due process,” the high court said.
The case stemmed from the complaint by an assistant special prosecutor who contributed PHP26,000 in a 2004 charity drive for victims of typhoon Milenyo through Gawad Kalinga.
The complainant accused Villa-Ignacio of utilizing the money for a different purpose, specifically the construction of water pipes in areas damaged by the typhoon.