"x x x.
On a procedural note, the assailed ruling of the Ombudsman obviously possesses the character of finality and, thus, not subject to appeal. The pertinent provision in this case is the old Section 7, Rule III of Ombudsman Administrative Order No. 7, Series of 1990 (Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman), before it was amended by Ombudsman Administrative Order No. 17, Series of 2003 (Amendment of Rule III, Administrative Order No. 7), which states that:
Sec. 7. FINALITY OF DECISION. — Where the respondent is absolved of the charge and in case of conviction where the penalty imposed is public censure or reprimand, suspension of not more than one month, or a fine equivalent to one month salary, the decision shall be final and unappealable. In all other cases, the decision shall become final after the expiration of ten (10) days from receipt thereof by the respondent, unless a motion for reconsideration or petition for certiorari shall have been filed by him as prescribed in Section 27 of RA 6770.
The basis for the said rule of procedure is Section 27 of Republic Act No. 6770 (The Ombudsman Act), to wit:
Section 27. Effectivity and Finality of Decisions. — (1) All provisionary orders of the Office of the Ombudsman are immediately effective and executory.
x x x x
Findings of fact by the Office of the Ombudsman when supported by substantial evidence are conclusive. Any order, directive or decision imposing the penalty of public censure or reprimand, suspension of not more than one (1) month's salary shall be final and unappealable.
As shown by the aforementioned regulation and statute, a decision of the Ombudsman absolving the respondent of an administrative charge is final and unappealable.
The Court categorically upheld this principle in Reyes, Jr. v. Belisario, to wit:
Notably, exoneration is not mentioned in Section 27 as final and unappealable. However, its inclusion is implicit for, as we held in Barata v. Abalos, if a sentence of censure, reprimand and a one-month suspension is considered final and unappealable, so should exoneration.
The clear import of Section 7, Rule III of the Ombudsman Rules is to deny the complainant in an administrative complaint the right to appeal where the Ombudsman has exonerated the respondent of the administrative charge, as in this case. The complainant, therefore, is not entitle to any corrective recourse, whether by motion for reconsideration in the Office of the Ombudsman, or by appeal to the courts, to effect a reversal of the exoneration. Only the respondent is granted the right to appeal but only in case he is found liable and the penalty imposed is higher than public censure, reprimand, one-month suspension or a fine equivalent to one month salary.
The absence of any statutory right to appeal the exoneration of the respondent in an administrative case does not mean, however, that the complainant is left with absolutely no remedy. Over and above our statutes is the Constitution whose Section 1, Article VIII empowers the courts of justice to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government. This is an overriding authority that cuts across all branches and instrumentalities of the government and is implemented through the petition for certiorari that Rule 65 of the Rules of Court provides. A petition for certiorari is appropriate when a tribunal, clothed with judicial or quasi-judicial authority, acted without jurisdiction (i.e., without the appropriate legal power to resolve a case), or in excess of jurisdiction (i.e., although clothed with the appropriate power to resolve a case, it oversteps its authority as determined by law, or that it committed grave abuse of its discretion by acting either outside the contemplation of the law or in a capricious, whimsical, arbitrary or despotic manner equivalent to lack of jurisdiction). The Rules of Court and its provisions and jurisprudence on writs of certiorari fully apply to the Office of the Ombudsman as these Rules are suppletory to the Ombudsman’s Rules. The Rules of Court are also the applicable rules in procedural matters on recourses to the courts and hence, are the rules the parties have to contend with in going to the CA.
In the case at bar, the petitioner did not file a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court and instead filed a petition for review under Rule 43 of the Rules of Court with the Court of Appeals. The latter is effectively an appeal to the Court of Appeals which is disallowed by the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman as well as the Ombudsman Act in case the respondent is exonerated by the Ombudsman for an administrative charge.
In any event, the instant petition failed to show any grave abuse of discretion or any reversible error on the part of the Ombudsman in issuing its assailed administrative decision, as affirmed by the Court of Appeals, which would compel this Court to overturn it.
Elementary is the rule that the findings of fact of the Office of the Ombudsman are conclusive when supported by substantial evidence and are accorded due respect and weight, especially when they are affirmed by the Court of Appeals. It is only when there is grave abuse of discretion by the Ombudsman that a review of factual findings may aptly be made. In reviewing administrative decisions, it is beyond the province of this Court to weigh the conflicting evidence, determine the credibility of witnesses, or otherwise substitute its judgment for that of the administrative agency with respect to the sufficiency of evidence. It is not the function of this Court to analyze and weigh the parties’ evidence all over again except when there is serious ground to believe that a possible miscarriage of justice would thereby result.
x x x."