The tragic hostage taking incident was the result of

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The tragic hostage-taking incident was the result of a confluence of several unfortunate events including system failure of government response. It cannot be solely attributed then to what petitioner Gonzales may have negligently failed to do for the quick, fair and complete resolution of the case, or to his error of judgment in the disposition thereof. Neither should petitioner's official acts in the resolution of P/S Insp. Mendoza's case be judged based upon the resulting deaths at the Quirino Grandstand. The failure to immediately act upon a party's requests for an early resolution of his case is not, by itself, gross neglect of duty amounting to betrayal of public trust. Records show that petitioner took considerably less time to act upon the draft resolution after the same was submitted for his appropriate action compared to the length of time that said draft remained pending and unacted upon in the Office of Ombudsman Merceditas N. Gutierrez. He reviewed and denied P/S Insp. Mendoza's motion for reconsideration within nine (9) calendar days reckoned from the time the draft resolution was submitted to him on April 27, 2010 until he forwarded his recommendation to the Office of Ombudsman Gutierrez on May 6, 2010 for the latter's final action. Clearly, the release of any final order on the case was no longer in his hands. Even if there was inordinate delay in the resolution of P/S Insp. Mendoza's motion and an unexplained failure on petitioner's part to supervise his subordinates in its prompt disposition, the same cannot be considered a vicious and malevolent act warranting his removal for betrayal of public trust. More so because the neglect imputed upon petitioner appears to be an isolated case. Accordingly, the OP's pronouncement of administrative accountability against petitioner and the imposition upon him of the corresponding penalty of dismissal must be reversed and set aside, as the findings of neglect of duty or misconduct in office do not amount to a betrayal of public trust. Hence, the President, while he may be vested with authority, cannot order the removal of petitioner as Deputy Ombudsman, there being no intentional wrongdoing of the grave and serious kind amounting to a betrayal of public trust. This is not to say, however, that petitioner is relieved of all liability for his acts showing less than diligent performance of official duties. Although the administrative acts imputed to petitioner fall short of the constitutional standard of betrayal of public trust, considering the OP's factual findings of negligence and misconduct against petitioner, the Court deems it appropriate to refer the case to the Office of the Ombudsman for further investigation of the charges in OP Case No. 10-J-460 and the imposition of the corresponding administrative sanctions, if any.
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