Redress of grievance against a government official or employee

by Manuel B. Quintal, Esq.

Old Supreme Court Building | Photo via Wikimedia Creative Commons

The popular notion is that government is a creation of the people. It exists to serve and promote what is referred to as the “common good” of the people. All government offices and agencies were created by law, or in accordance with the law, to advance the cause or causes that would ultimately redound to that common good. Theoretically, all government officials and employees are “servants” (not the masters, though some believe and behave as if they are) of the people or governed. It is the underlying rationale for its being.

The popular notion is that government is a creation of the people. It exists to serve and promote what is referred to as the “common good” of the people. All government offices and agencies were created by law, or in accordance with the law, to advance the cause or causes that would ultimately redound to that common good. Theoretically, all government officials and employees are “servants” (not the masters, though some believe and behave as if they are) of the people or governed. It is the underlying rationale for its being.

The theory supplies the rationale for the legitimate existence of the government. The reality is that government and its officials and employees are fallible like all of us. Government officials and employees commit mistakes, either acting beyond their lawful authority or failing to perform their required actions. The mistakes may result in injury or loss to anyone they are supposed to assist and protect.

If you suffer injury or loss due to the action or inaction of the government through its officials and employees, what may you do to recover the loss or to have the offender penalized?

“The popular notion is that government is a creation of the people. It exists to serve and promote what is referred to as the “common good” of the people. All government offices and agencies were created by law, or in accordance with the law, to advance the cause or causes that would ultimately redound to that common good.”

In a country where the price of expressing contrary views may result in dire consequences, silence and toleration of government officials’ and employees’ abuses, or failures to perform what is/are required of them by law, maybe the better option to pursue to save oneself from harm. Many of those people, the locals, in particular, would prefer to endure the same rather than face possible retributions, whether official or otherwise, and further aggravation. They know fully the costs of pursuing the case and how the bureaucracy is to their advantage.

Noticeably, it is the nonresidents of the country. These people are mainly beyond the reach of the government or its officials and employees, who are very vocal about what they consider seemingly untold and horrific experiences they claim they had dealing with certain government agencies and personnel.

In the case of the Philippines, and this is not to imply that dire consequences befall upon those who spout anti-government views, a nonresident or a noncitizen who suffered harm due the action or inaction of a Philippine government official or employee may pursue their case through a government agency specially created for that purpose. It is called the Office of the Ombudsman.

Any person, including a Filipino nonresident of the Philippines, a dual citizen of the Philippines, or an alien, who claims to have suffered due to the action or inaction of a Philippine government official or employee, can seek redress by filing a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman, which was formed under Republic Act 6770 in 1989. Its principal duty is to prosecute any official or employee who may have violated a law. As the law states, the Ombudsman has to “investigate and prosecute… any act or omission of a public officer or employee, office or agency, when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or insufficient.”

I must emphasize that the action or inaction of the government official or employee must be related to their position or function. Simply illustrated, if an individual who happens to be a government employee stole your hard-earned dollars while you were on vacation in the Philippines, you could not file your complaint with the Ombudsman. You can only try to recover your money through the regular courts.

“Knowing that there is an avenue to pursue the claim against any government official or employees who have caused you harm by reason and because of their office, will you, a nonresident of the Philippines, either a dual citizen or an alien, continue to go all the way to seek redress against the offender?”

You, the private complainant, must file an affidavit complaint for the Ombudsman to act on to initiate a case. It may require your physical presence to file and pursue the complaint. Unless the rules allow online testimony, you will have to travel to the Philippines to give your story and the basis of your complaint. By the way, the Ombudsman may, on its own, file a complaint.

Granting that after investigation, the Ombudsman finds sufficient reason to pursue the complaint, it will file and prosecute the case before the Sandiganbayan, a special court that handles only cases against government officials and employees those prohibited acts related to their official positions.

Knowing that there is an avenue to pursue the claim against any government official or employees who have caused you harm by reason and because of their office, will you, a nonresident of the Philippines, either a dual citizen or an alien, continue to go all the way to seek redress against the offender? Unless there is really an overriding reason(s), not many nonresidents of the Philippines will pursue the offender. The main reason: practicality.

If you are the offended party, will you?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Manuel B. Quintal, ESQ., practices law in New York since 1989. He is active in the community as a member, an officer, or a legal adviser of various professional, business, and not-for-profit organizations. He was a columnist of Newstar Philippines, an English language weekly newspaper published in New York, from 2006-2009. He was Executive Editor of International Tribune, an English language weekly newspaper for the Asian community, based in New York, from 2010 to 2012. He is admitted to practice law in the Philippines and New York State. He has graduate degrees in Political Science and an LL.M. major in International Law.

1 comment

Manuel B. Quintal, Esq. February 26, 2022 - 9:52 pm

A letter complaint or affidavit complaint may be sent to: Ombudsman, Diliman, Quezon City, Attn: Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon, visayas, Mindaanao, or Deputy Ombudsman for the Military.

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