Ponente: QUIASON, J.
The petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus, with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction or Temporary Restraining Order, under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court, seeks to nullify the Order of the Ombudsman directing the preventive suspension of petitioners Dr. Brigida S. Buenaseda et.al. The questioned order was issued in connection with the administrative complaint filed with the Ombudsman (OBM-ADM-0-91-0151) by the private respondents against the petitioners for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. The Supreme Court required respondent Secretary to comply with the aforestated status quo order. The Solicitor General, in his comment, stated that (a) “The authority of the Ombudsman is only to recommend suspension and he has no direct power to suspend;” and (b) “Assuming the Ombudsman has the power to directly suspend a government official or employee, there are conditions required by law for the exercise of such powers; [and] said conditions have not been met in the instant case”
Whether or not the Ombudsman has the power to suspend government officials and employees working in offices other than the Office of the Ombudsman, pending the investigation of the administrative complaints filed against said officials and employees.
YES. Petition was dismissed, status quo lifted and set aside.
When the constitution vested on the Ombudsman the power “to recommend the suspension” of a public official or employees (Sec. 13 ), it referred to “suspension,” as a punitive measure. All the words associated with the word “suspension” in said provision referred to penalties in administrative cases, e.g. removal, demotion, fine, censure. Under the rule of noscitur a sociis, the word “suspension” should be given the same sense as the other words with which it is associated. Where a particular word is equally susceptible of various meanings, its correct construction may be made specific by considering the company of terms in which it is found or with which it is associated.
Section 24 of R.A. No. 6770, which grants the Ombudsman the power to preventively suspend public officials and employees facing administrative charges before him, is a procedural, not a penal statute. The preventive suspension is imposed after compliance with the requisites therein set forth, as an aid in the investigation of the administrative charges.