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G.R. No.

168766

May 22, 2008

THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, petitioner,


vs.
HENRY A. SOJOR, respondent.
DECISION
REYES, R.T., J.:
IS the president of a state university outside the reach of the disciplinary jurisdiction constitutionally
granted to the Civil Service Commission (CSC) over all civil servants and officials?
Does the assumption by the CSC of jurisdiction over a president of a state university violate
academic freedom?
The twin questions, among others, are posed in this petition for review on certiorari of the
Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) which annulled two (2) CSC Resolutions 2 against respondent
Henry A. Sojor.
The Facts
The uncontroverted facts that led to the controversy, as found by the CSC and the CA, are as
follows:
On August 1, 1991, respondent Sojor was appointed by then President Corazon Aquino as president
of the Central Visayas Polytechnic College (CVPC) in Dumaguete City. In June 1997, Republic Act
(R.A.) No. 8292, or the "Higher Education Modernization Act of 1997," was enacted. This law
mandated that a Board of Trustees (BOT) be formed to act as the governing body in state colleges.
The BOT of CVPC appointed respondent as president, with a four-year term beginning September
1998 up to September 2002.3 Upon the expiration of his first term of office in 2002, he was appointed
president of the institution for a second four-year term, expiring on September 24, 2006. 4
On June 25, 2004, CVPC was converted into the Negros Oriental State University (NORSU). 5 A
Board of Regents (BOR) succeeded the BOT as its governing body.
Meanwhile, three (3) separate administrative cases against respondent were filed by CVPC faculty
members before the CSC Regional Office (CSC-RO) No. VII in Cebu City, to wit:
1. ADMC DC No. 02-20(A) Complaint for dishonesty, grave misconduct and conduct
prejudicial to the best interest of the service filed on June 26, 2002 by Jose Rene A. Cepe
and Narciso P. Ragay. It was alleged that respondent approved the release of salary
differentials despite the absence of the required Plantilla and Salary Adjustment Form and
valid appointments.6
2. ADM DC No. 02-20 Complaint for dishonesty, misconduct and falsification of official
documents filed on July 10, 2002 by Jocelyn Juanon and Carolina Fe Santos. The complaint
averred that respondent maliciously allowed the antedating and falsification of the
reclassification differential payroll, to the prejudice of instructors and professors who have
pending request for adjustment of their academic ranks. 7

3. ADM DC No. 02-21 Complaint for nepotism filed on August 15, 2002 by Rose Marie
Palomar, a former part-time instructor of CVPC. It was alleged that respondent appointed his
half-sister, Estrellas Sojor-Managuilas, as casual clerk, in violation of the provisions against
nepotism under the Administrative Code.8
Before filing his counter-affidavits, respondent moved to dismiss the first two complaints on grounds
of lack of jurisdiction, bar by prior judgment and forum shopping.
He claimed that the CSC had no jurisdiction over him as a presidential appointee. Being part of the
non-competitive or unclassified service of the government, he was exclusively under the disciplinary
jurisdiction of the Office of the President (OP). He argued that CSC had no authority to entertain,
investigate and resolve charges against him; that the Civil Service Law contained no provisions on
the investigation, discipline, and removal of presidential appointees. He also pointed out that the
subject matter of the complaints had already been resolved by the Office of the Ombudsman. 9
Finding no sufficient basis to sustain respondents arguments, the CSC-RO denied his motion to
dismiss in its Resolution dated September 4, 2002.10 His motion for reconsideration11 was likewise
denied. Thus, respondent was formally charged with three administrative cases, namely: (1)
Dishonesty, Misconduct, and Falsification of Official Document; (2) Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct,
and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service; and (3) Nepotism. 12
Respondent appealed the actions of the regional office to the Commission proper (CSC), raising the
same arguments in his motion to dismiss.13He argued that since the BOT is headed by the
Committee on Higher Education Chairperson who was under the OP, the BOT was also under the
OP. Since the president of CVPC was appointed by the BOT, then he was a presidential appointee.
On the matter of the jurisdiction granted to
CSC by virtue of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 80714 enacted in October 1975, respondent
contended that this was superseded by the provisions of R.A. No. 8292, 15 a later law which granted
to the BOT the power to remove university officials.
CSC Disposition
In a Resolution dated March 30, 2004,16 the CSC dismissed respondents appeal and authorized its
regional office to proceed with the investigation. He was also preventively suspended for 90 days.
The fallo of the said resolution states:
WHEREFORE, the appeal of Henry A. Sojor, President of Central Visayas Polytechnic
College, is hereby DISMISSED. The Civil Service Commission Regional Office No. VII, Cebu
City, is authorized to proceed with the formal investigation of the cases against Sojor and
submit the investigation reports to the Commission within one hundred five (105) days from
receipt hereof. Finally, Sojor is preventively suspended for ninety (90) days. 17
In decreeing that it had jurisdiction over the disciplinary case against respondent, the CSC opined
that his claim that he was a presidential appointee had no basis in fact or in law. CSC maintained
that it had concurrent jurisdiction with the BOT of the CVPC. We quote:
His appointment dated September 23, 2002 was signed by then Commission on Higher
Education (CHED) Chairman Ester A. Garcia. Moreover, the said appointment expressly
stated that it was approved and adopted by the Central Visayas Polytechnic College Board
of Trustees on August 13, 2002 in accordance with Section 6 of Republic Act No. 8292

(Higher education Modernization Act of 1997), which explicitly provides that, "He (the
president of a state college) shall be appointed by the Board of Regents/Trustees, upon
recommendation of a duly constituted search committee." Since the President of a state
college is appointed by the Board of Regents/Trustees of the college concerned, it is
crystal clear that he is not a presidential appointee. Therefore, it is without doubt that
Sojor, being the President of a state college (Central Visayas Polytechnic College), is
within the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Commission.
The allegation of appellant Sojor that the Commission is bereft of disciplinary jurisdiction
over him since the same is exclusively lodged in the CVPC Board of Trustees, being the
appointing authority, cannot be considered. The Commission and the CVPC Board of
Trustees have concurrent jurisdiction over cases against officials and employees of
the said agency. Since the three (3) complaints against Sojor were filed with the
Commission and not with the CVPC, then the former already acquired disciplinary jurisdiction
over the appellant to the exclusion of the latter agency.18 (Emphasis supplied)
The CSC categorized respondent as a third level official, as defined under its rules, who are under
the jurisdiction of the Commission proper. Nevertheless, it adopted the formal charges issued by its
regional office and ordered it to proceed with the investigation:
Pursuant to the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, Sojor, being a
third level official, is within the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Commission Proper. Thus,
strictly speaking, the Commission has the sole jurisdiction to issue the formal charge against
Sojor. x x x However, since the CSC RO No. VII already issued the formal charges against
him and found merit in the said formal charges, the same is adopted. The CSC RO No. VII is
authorized to proceed with the formal investigation of the case against Sojor in
accordance with the procedure outlined in the aforestated Uniform Rules.19 (Emphasis
supplied)
No merit was found by the CSC in respondents motion for reconsideration and, accordingly, denied
it with finality on July 6, 2004.20
Respondent appealed the CSC resolutions to the CA via a petition for certiorari and prohibition. He
alleged that the CSC acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it issued the assailed resolutions; that CSC
encroached upon the academic freedom of CVPC; and that the power to remove, suspend, and
discipline the president of CVPC was exclusively lodged in the BOT of CVPC.
CA Disposition
On September 29, 2004, the CA issued a writ of preliminary injunction directing the CSC to cease
and desist from enforcing its Resolution dated March 30, 2004 and Resolution dated July 6,
2004.21 Thus, the formal investigation of the administrative charges against Sojor before the CSCRO was suspended.
On June 27, 2005, after giving both parties an opportunity to air their sides, the CA resolved in favor
of respondent. It annulled the questioned CSC resolutions and permanently enjoined the CSC from
proceeding with the administrative investigation. The dispositive part of the CA decision reads:
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, and finding that the respondent Civil Service
Commission acted without jurisdiction in issuing the assailed Resolution Nos. 040321 and
040766 dated March 20, 2004 and July 6, 2004, respectively, the same are hereby

ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. The preliminary injunction issued by this Court on September
29, 2004 is hereby made permanent.
SO ORDERED.22
The CA ruled that the power to appoint carries with it the power to remove or to discipline. It declared
that the enactment of R.A. No. 929923 in 2004, which converted CVPC into NORSU, did not divest
the BOT of the power to discipline and remove its faculty members, administrative officials, and
employees. Respondent was appointed as president of CVPC by the BOT by virtue of the authority
granted to it under Section 6 of R.A. No. 8292.24 The power of the BOT to remove and discipline
erring employees, faculty members, and administrative officials as expressly provided for under
Section 4 of R.A. No. 8292 is also granted to the BOR of NORSU under Section 7 of R.A. No. 9299.
The said provision reads:
Power and Duties of Governing Boards. The governing board shall have the following
specific powers and duties in addition to its general powers of administration and exercise of
all the powers granted to the board of directors of a corporation under Section 36 of Batas
Pambansa Blg. 68, otherwise known as the Corporation Code of the Philippines:
xxxx
to fix and adjust salaries of faculty members and administrative officials and employees x x
x; and to remove them for cause in accordance with the requirements of due process
of law. (Emphasis added)
The CA added that Executive Order (E.O.) No. 292,25 which grants disciplinary jurisdiction to the
CSC over all branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities, and agencies of the government, including
government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters, is a general law. According to
the appellate court, E.O. No. 292 does not prevail over R.A. No. 9299, 26 a special law.
Issues
Petitioner CSC comes to Us, seeking to reverse the decision of the CA on the ground that
THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT PETITIONER ACTED
WITHOUT JURISDICTION IN ISSUING RESOLUTION NO. 040321 DATED MARCH 30,
2004 AND RESOLUTION NO. 04766 DATED JULY 6, 2004. 27
Our Ruling
The petition is meritorious.
I. Jurisdiction of the CSC
The Constitution grants to the CSC administration over the entire civil service. 28 As defined, the civil
service embraces every branch, agency, subdivision, and instrumentality of the government,
including every government-owned or controlled corporation. 29 It is further classified into career and
non-career service positions. Career service positions are those where: (1) entrance is based on
merit and fitness or highly technical qualifications; (2) there is opportunity for advancement to higher
career positions; and (3) there is security of tenure. These include:

(1) Open Career positions for appointment to which prior qualification in an appropriate
examination is required;
(2) Closed Career positions which are scientific, or highly technical in nature; these include
the faculty and academic staff of state colleges and universities, and scientific and technical
positions in scientific or research institutions which shall establish and maintain their own
merit systems;
(3) Positions in the Career Executive Service; namely, Undersecretary, Assistant Secretary,
Bureau Director, Assistant Bureau Director, Regional Director, Assistant Regional Director,
Chief of Department Service and other officers of equivalent rank as may be identified by the
Career Executive Service Board, all of whom are appointed by the President;
(4) Career officers, other than those in the Career Executive Service, who are appointed by
the President, such as the Foreign Service Officers in the Department of Foreign Affairs;
(5) Commissioned officers and enlisted men of the Armed Forces which shall maintain a
separate merit system;
(6) Personnel of government-owned or controlled corporations, whether performing
governmental or proprietary functions, who do not fall under the non-career service; and
(7) Permanent laborers, whether skilled, semi-skilled, or unskilled.30
Career positions are further grouped into three levels. Entrance to the first two levels is determined
through competitive examinations, while entrance to the third level is prescribed by the Career
Executive Service Board.31 The positions covered by each level are:
(a) The first level shall include clerical, trades, crafts, and custodial service positions which
involve non-professional or subprofessional work in a non-supervisory or supervisory
capacity requiring less than four years of collegiate studies;
(b) The second level shall include professional, technical, and scientific positions which
involve professional, technical, or scientific work in a non-supervisory or supervisory capacity
requiring at least four years of college work up to Division Chief level; and
(c) The third level shall cover positions in the Career Executive Service. 32
On the other hand, non-career service positions are characterized by: (1) entrance not by the usual
tests of merit and fitness; and (2) tenure which is limited to a period specified by law, coterminous
with the appointing authority or subject to his pleasure, or limited to the duration of a particular
project for which purpose employment was made.33 The law states:
The Non-Career Service shall include:
(1) Elective officials and their personal or confidential staff;
(2) Secretaries and other officials of Cabinet rank who hold their positions at the pleasure of
the President and their personal or confidential staff(s);

(3) Chairman and members of commissions and boards with fixed terms of office and their
personal or confidential staff;
(4) Contractual personnel or those whose employment in the government is in accordance
with a special contract to undertake a specific work or job, requiring special or technical skills
not available in the employing agency, to be accomplished within a specific period, which in
no case shall exceed one year, and performs or accomplishes the specific work or job, under
his own responsibility with a minimum of direction and supervision from the hiring agency;
and
(5) Emergency and seasonal personnel.34
It is evident that CSC has been granted by the Constitution and the Administrative Code jurisdiction
over all civil service positions in the government service, whether career or non-career. From this
grant of general jurisdiction, the CSC promulgated the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative
Cases in the Civil Service.35 We find that the specific jurisdiction, as spelled out in the CSC rules, did
not depart from the general jurisdiction granted to it by law. The jurisdiction of the Regional Office of
the CSC and the Commission central office (Commission Proper) is specified in the CSC rules as:
Section 4. Jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission. The Civil Service Commission shall
hear and decide administrative cases instituted by, or brought before it, directly or on appeal,
including contested appointments, and shall review decisions and actions of its offices and of
the agencies attached to it.
Except as otherwise provided by the Constitution or by law, the Civil Service
Commission shall have the final authority to pass upon the removal, separation and
suspension of all officers and employees in the civil service and upon all matters
relating to the conduct, discipline and efficiency of such officers and employees.
Section 5. Jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission Proper. The Civil Service
Commission Proper shall have jurisdiction over the following cases:
A. Disciplinary
1. Decisions of Civil Service Regional Offices brought before it on petition for
review;
2. Decisions of heads of departments, agencies, provinces, cities,
municipalities and other instrumentalities, imposing penalties exceeding thirty
days suspension or fine in an amount exceeding thirty days salary brought
before it on appeal;
3. Complaints brought against Civil Service Commission Proper personnel;
4. Complaints against third level officials who are not presidential appointees;
5. Complaints against Civil Service officials and employees which are
not acted upon by the agencies and such other complaints requiring
direct or immediate action, in the interest of justice;

6. Requests for transfer of venue of hearing on cases being heard by Civil


Service Regional Offices;
7. Appeals from the Order of Preventive Suspension; and
8. Such other actions or requests involving issues arising out of or in
connection with the foregoing enumerations.
B. Non-Disciplinary
1. Decisions of Civil Service Commission Regional Offices brought
before it;
2. Requests for favorable recommendation on petition for executive
clemency;
3. Protests against the appointment, or other personnel actions, involving
third level officials; and
4. Such other analogous actions or petitions arising out of or in relation with
the foregoing enumerations.
Section 6. Jurisdiction of Civil Service Regional Offices. The Civil Service Commission
Regional Offices shall have jurisdiction over the following cases:
A. Disciplinary
1. Complaints initiated by, or brought before, the Civil Service
Commission Regional Offices provided that the alleged acts or
omissions were committed within the jurisdiction of the Regional
Office, including Civil Service examination anomalies or irregularities
and the persons complained of are employees of agencies, local or
national, within said geographical areas;
2. Complaints involving Civil Service Commission Regional Office personnel
who are appointees of said office; and
3. Petitions to place respondent under Preventive Suspension.
B. Non-Disciplinary
1. Disapproval of appointments brought before it on appeal;
2. Protests against the appointments of first and second level employees
brought before it directly or on appeal. (Emphasis supplied)
Respondent, a state university president with a fixed term of office appointed by the governing board
of trustees of the university, is a non-career civil service officer. He was appointed by the chairman
and members of the governing board of CVPC. By clear provision of law, respondent is a non-career
civil servant who is under the jurisdiction of the CSC.

II. The power of the BOR to discipline officials and employees is not exclusive. CSC has
concurrent jurisdiction over a president of a state university.
Section 4 of R.A. No. 8292, or the Higher Education Modernization Act of 1997, under which law
respondent was appointed during the time material to the present case, provides that the schools
governing board shall have the general powers of administration granted to a corporation. In
addition, Section 4 of the law grants to the board the power to remove school faculty members,
administrative officials, and employees for cause:
Section 4. Powers and Duties of Governing Boards. The governing board shall have the
following specific powers and duties in addition to its general powers of
administration and the exercise of all the powers granted to the board of directors of a
corporation under Section 36 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 68, otherwise known as the
Corporation Code of the Philippines:
xxxx
h) to fix and adjust salaries of faculty members and administrative officials and
employees subject to the provisions of the revised compensation and classification
system and other pertinent budget and compensation laws governing hours of
service, and such other duties and conditions as it may deem proper; to grant them,
at its discretion, leaves of absence under such regulations as it may promulgate, any
provisions of existing law to the contrary not withstanding; and to remove them for
cause in accordance with the requirements of due process of law. (Emphasis
supplied)
The above section was subsequently reproduced as Section 7(i) of the succeeding law that
converted CVPC into NORSU, R.A. No. 9299. Notably, and in contrast with the earlier law, R.A. No.
9299 now provides that the administration of the university and exercise of corporate powers of the
board of the school shall be exclusive:
Sec. 4. Administration. The University shall have the general powers of a corporation set
forth in Batas Pambansa Blg. 68, as amended, otherwise known as "The Corporation Code
of the Philippines." The administration of the University and the exercise of its
corporate powers shall be vested exclusively in the Board of Regents and the
president of the University insofar as authorized by the Board.
Measured by the foregoing yardstick, there is no question that administrative power over the school
exclusively belongs to its BOR. But does this exclusive administrative power extend to the power to
remove its erring employees and officials?
In light of the other provisions of R.A. No. 9299, respondents argument that the BOR has exclusive
power to remove its university officials must fail. Section 7 of R.A. No. 9299 states that the power to
remove faculty members, employees, and officials of the university is granted to the BOR "in addition
to its general powers of administration." This provision is essentially a reproduction of Section 4 of its
predecessor, R.A. No. 8292, demonstrating that the intent of the lawmakers did not change even
with the enactment of the new law. For clarity, the text of the said section is reproduced below:
Sec. 7. Powers and Duties of the Board of Regents. The Board shall have the following
specific powers and duties in addition to its general powers of administration and the
exercise of all the powers granted to the Board of Directors of a corporation under existing
laws:

xxxx
i. To fix and adjust salaries of faculty members and administrative officials and
employees, subject to the provisions of the Revised Compensation and Position
Classification System and other pertinent budget and compensation laws governing
hours of service and such other duties and conditions as it may deem proper; to
grant them, at its discretion, leaves of absence under such regulations as it may
promulgate, any provision of existing law to the contrary notwithstanding; and to
remove them for cause in accordance with the requirements of due process of
law.36 (Emphasis supplied)
Verily, the BOR of NORSU has the sole power of administration over the university. But this power is
not exclusive in the matter of disciplining and removing its employees and officials.
Although the BOR of NORSU is given the specific power under R.A. No. 9299 to discipline its
employees and officials, there is no showing that such power is exclusive. When the law bestows
upon a government body the jurisdiction to hear and decide cases involving specific matters, it is to
be presumed that such jurisdiction is exclusive unless it be proved that another body is likewise
vested with the same jurisdiction, in which case, both bodies have concurrent jurisdiction over the
matter.37
All members of the civil service are under the jurisdiction of the CSC, unless otherwise provided by
law. Being a non-career civil servant does not remove respondent from the ambit of the CSC. Career
or non-career, a civil service official or employee is within the jurisdiction of the CSC.
This is not a case of first impression.
In University of the Philippines v. Regino,38 this Court struck down the claim of exclusive jurisdiction
of the UP BOR to discipline its employees. The Court held then:
The Civil Service Law (PD 807) expressly vests in the Commission appellate jurisdiction in
administrative disciplinary cases involving members of the Civil Service. Section 9(j)
mandates that the Commission shall have the power to "hear and decide administrative
disciplinary cases instituted directly with it in accordance with Section 37 or brought to it on
appeal." And Section 37(a) provides that, "The Commission shall decide upon appeal all
administrative disciplinary cases involving the imposition of a penalty of suspension for more
than thirty (30) days, or fine in an amount exceeding thirty days salary, demotion in rank or
salary or transfer, removal or dismissal from office." (Emphasis supplied)
Under the 1972 Constitution, all government-owned or controlled corporations, regardless of
the manner of their creation, were considered part of the Civil Service. Under the 1987
Constitution, only government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters fall
within the scope of the Civil Service pursuant to Article IX-B, Section 2(1), which states:
"The Civil Service embraces all branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities, and
agencies of the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations
with original charters."
As a mere government-owned or controlled corporation, UP was clearly a part of the Civil
Service under the 1973 Constitution and now continues to be so because it was created by a
special law and has an original charter. As a component of the Civil Service, UP is

therefore governed by PD 807 and administrative cases involving the discipline of its
employees come under the appellate jurisdiction of the Civil Service
Commission.39 (Emphasis supplied)
In the more recent case of Camacho v. Gloria,40 this Court lent credence to the concurrent jurisdiction
of the CSC when it affirmed that a case against a university official may be filed either with the
universitys BOR or directly with the CSC. We quote:
Further, petitioner contends that the creation of the committee by the respondent Secretary,
as Chairman of the USP Board of Regents, was contrary to the Civil Service Rules.
However, he cites no specific provision of the Civil Service Law which was violated by the
respondents in forming the investigating committee. The Civil Service Rules embodied in
Executive Order 292 recognize the power of the Secretary and the university, through its
governing board, to investigate and decide matters involving disciplinary action against
officers and employees under their jurisdiction. Of course under EO 292, a complaint
against a state university official may be filed either with the universitys Board of
Regents or directly with the Civil Service Commission, although the CSC may
delegate the investigation of a complaint and for that purpose, may deputize any
department, agency, official or group of officials to conduct such
investigation.41(Emphasis supplied)
Thus, CSC validly took cognizance of the administrative complaints directly filed before the regional
office, concerning violations of civil service rules against respondent.
III. Academic freedom may not be invoked when there are alleged violations of civil service
laws and rules.
Certainly, academic institutions and personnel are granted wide latitude of action under the principle
of academic freedom. Academic freedom encompasses the freedom to determine who may teach,
who may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study.42Following that
doctrine, this Court has recognized that institutions of higher learning has the freedom to decide for
itself the best methods to achieve their aims and objectives, free from outside coercion, except when
the welfare of the general public so requires.43 They have the independence to determine who to
accept to study in their school and they cannot be compelled by mandamus to enroll a student. 44
That principle, however, finds no application to the facts of the present case. Contrary to the matters
traditionally held to be justified to be within the bounds of academic freedom, the administrative
complaints filed against Sojor involve violations of civil service rules. He is facing charges of
nepotism, dishonesty, falsification of official documents, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to
the best interest of the service. These are classified as grave offenses under civil service rules,
punishable with suspension or even dismissal.45
This Court has held that the guaranteed academic freedom does not give an institution the unbridled
authority to perform acts without any statutory basis.46 For that reason, a school official, who is a
member of the civil service, may not be permitted to commit violations of civil service rules under the
justification that he was free to do so under the principle of academic freedom.
Lastly, We do not agree with respondents contention that his appointment to the position of
president of NORSU, despite the pending administrative cases against him, served as a
condonation by the BOR of the alleged acts imputed to him. The doctrine this Court laid down
inSalalima v. Guingona, Jr.47 and Aguinaldo v. Santos48 are inapplicable to the present
circumstances. Respondents in the mentioned cases are elective officials, unlike respondent here

who is an appointed official. Indeed, election expresses the sovereign will of the people. 49 Under the
principle of vox populi est suprema lex, the re-election of a public official may, indeed, supersede a
pending administrative case. The same cannot be said of a re-appointment to a non-career position.
There is no sovereign will of the people to speak of when the BOR re-appointed respondent Sojor to
the post of university president.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals is REVERSED and
SET ASIDE. The assailed Resolutions of the Civil Service Commission are REINSTATED.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 174321

October 22, 2013

ROLANDO GANZON, Petitioner,


vs.
FERNANDO ARLOS, Respondent.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
A government employee who is found guilty of grave misconduct may be dismissed from the service
even upon the first offense.
The Case
Petitioner Rolando Ganzon, an employee of the Department of Interior and Local Government
(DILG), seeks the reversal of his dismissal from the service and the accessory penalties on the
ground of grave misconduct.
Antecedents
The DILG Regional Office in Port San Pedro, Iloilo City held its Christmas party on December 17,
1999 at the office parking lot. When the Christmas party was about to end at 7:30 in the evening,
respondent Fernando Arlos (Arlos), then the OIC Provincial Director of DILG, left to get some
documents from the Office of the Operations Division located at the second floor of the building.
While Arlos was making his way to the stairs, Ganzon suddenly approached and pulled out a short
firearm of unknown caliber from his waist and with no provocation pointed the firearm at Arlos,
angrily shouting in Ilongo: Nanding, hulat anay. Diin ang boss mo? Nga-a nga wala man nya ako
guin-patawag?1 Arlos responded: Ato ti sir Orendez sa may program. May kuhaon lang ako sa
ibabaw.2 Arlos parried Ganzons firearm-wielding hand and tried to proceed towards the stairs, but
Ganzon blocked his path, pushed him back, and again pointed the firearm at Arlos chest. Sensing
that Ganzon would shoot him then, Arlos quickly warded off Ganzons firearm-wielding hand. At that
instant, the firearm exploded and the bullet hit the floor. Ganzon again aimed the firearm at Arlos,
prompting the latter to run away as fast as he could. Ganzon followed Arlos, and when they got to
the gate of the building, Ganzon once more pushed him back and pointed the firearm at him, saying:
Patay ka!3 Ganzon held the firearm close to his waistline to conceal it from the view of the other
people present at the time.
At around 9:45 in the morning of December 21, 1999, Arlos went to the DILG office to see the
Regional Director upon the latters instruction. Ganzon, who was then standing near the entrance to
the building, shouted upon seeing Arlos enter the gate: O, ti ano?, 4 obviously still referring to the
incident of December 17, 1999. Arlos answered: Ang kadto ko diri indi away, kundi makigkita ako sa
kay Director.5

The incidents of December 17, 1999 and December 21, 1999 impelled Arlos to administratively
charge Ganzon with grave misconduct.
On his part, Ganzon denied the charge and elected to undergo a formal investigation. During the
formal investigation conducted by Regional Office No. 6 of the Civil Service Commission (CSC
Regional Office), the parties agreed that in order to dispense with the presentation of witnesses and
other evidence, they would just adopt the evidence presented in the pending criminal prosecution for
attempted homicide (Criminal Case No. 648-2000 entitled People v. Ganzon ) in the Municipal Circuit
Trial Court (Branch 1) in Iloilo City arising from the same incident. 6 Accordingly, Arlos was directed to
submit the complete transcripts of stenographic notes of the proceedings in Criminal Case No. 6482000.
The witnesses for the Prosecution in Criminal Case No. 648-2000 were Arlos, DILG employee
Nestor Sayno, DILG Provincial Director Eliseo Orendez, and Fernando Totesora, Jr., the security
guard then assigned at the DILG Regional Office. They attested to what had transpired in the
evening of December 17, 1999, specifically, that Ganzon had threatened and aimed a firearm at
Arlos.7
In his turn, Ganzon presented himself and two others, namely, Bobby Pepino, also an employee of
the DILG Regional Office, and Voltaire Guides.8 They described a different version of the incident, to
wit:
ROLANDO GANZON testified that he is presently assigned with the Planning Unit of DILG. He has
been connected with the DILG for twenty-five (25) years. From 1994 to 1999 he was assigned as
DILG Officer of the Municipality of Barotac Viejo, Iloilo. In September 1999, he transferred to the
Regional Office. On December 17, 1999, about 7:30 in the evening, he was with Bobby Pepino and
Voltaire Guides waiting for the drinks to be served to guests in their Christmas Party. Fernando Arlos
arrived and asked them what they were doing at the lobby. He answered that they were waiting for
the drinks to be served.
Fernando said that they should be getting better performance ratings. He immediately responded
that sometimes performance ratings are disregarded or even changed. Fernando got angry, and in
order to avoid further discussion, Rolando stood up. At that time, guests were starting to arrive.
Fernando pushed his body against Rolando at the same time raising his right hand. Rolando held his
hand; Fernando raised his left but again Rolando held it. They then pushed and shoved each other
to the gate.
At the gate, Fernando immediately left. Rolando went back to the administrative office to take his
dinner. After eating, he went to the quadrangle to watch the program. At the quadrangle, he saw
Provincial Director Orendez, Regional Director Reyes, and Presidential Consultant Jonathan Sanico.
He stayed there up to 2 oclock in the morning. During that time no policeman came to arrest him.
He further testified that before the incident he had no grudge or ill feeling against Fernando Arlos. He
also testified about the hole located at the lobby of the Regional Office. He said that no shell or slug
was recovered in connection with the subject incident. He testified about the change made on his

performance rating and that he would often meet Fernando Arlos and no altercation or heated
argument transpired between them.9
Ruling of CSC Regional Office
On February 7, 2002, the CSC Regional Office rendered its decision finding Ganzon guilty of grave
misconduct, ruling thusly:
WHEREFORE, Rolando Ganzon is hereby found guilty of Grave Misconduct and meted out the
penalty of dismissal from the service with all its accessory penalties.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished Fernando Arlos, Rolando Ganzon, Atty. Virgilio Teruel, Atty.
Rey Padilla, Director Rexdito Reyes of DILG Regional Office No. 6, Iloilo City, the GSIS Branch
Manager in Iloilo City and Director Purita H. Escobia of CSC Iloilo Provincial Office at their known
addresses.10
Ruling of CSC Main
Ganzon appealed to the Civil Service Commission Main Office (CSC), which affirmed the contested
ruling of the CSC Regional Office on January 27, 2004, to wit:
WHEREFORE , the instant appeal is hereby DISMISSED . The decision of the Civil Service
Regional Office No. VI finding Rolando Ganzon guilty of grave misconduct and penalizing him with
dismissal from the service, is affirmed in all aspects. It should be understood that the penalty of
dismissal as imposed in this case carries with it such accessory penalties as forfeiture of retirement
benefits, and disqualification from public employment.11
Ganzon moved for a reconsideration, but his motion to that effect was denied through the resolution
dated November 9, 2004.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
Ganzon appealed by petition for review in the Court of Appeals (CA), submitting the following issues,
namely:
1. WHETHER OR NOT THE ACT ALLEGEDLY COMMITTED BY THE PETITIONER WAS
ESSENTIALLY CONNECTED WITH THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES.
2. WHETHER OR NOT THE OFFENSE CHARGED CAN BE CONSIDERED AS SERVICE
CONNECTED DESPITE THE FACT THAT IT IS NOT ESSENTIALLY CONNECTED WITH
THE OFFICE OF THE PETITIONER AND WAS NOT PERPETRATED WHILE IN
PERFORMANCE OF HIS OFFICIAL FUNCTION.
3. WHETHER OR NOT THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION CAN HOLD LIABLE THE
PETITIONER FOR GRAVE MISCONDUCT DESPITE HIS ACQUITTAL IN THE CRIMINAL
CASE FILED AGAINST HIM.

4. WHETHER OR NOT THE PENALTY OF DISMISSAL IS UNJUST AND EXCESSIVE.12


On February 15, 2006, the CA promulgated its assailed decision affirming the ruling of the
CSC,13 thus:
WHEREFORE, finding no merit in the present petition, the same is hereby DISMISSED and the
assailed judgments AFFIRMED in toto. Costs against petitioner.
SO ORDERED.
On August 3, 2006, the CA denied Ganzons motion for reconsideration. 14
Issues
Hence, Ganzon has appealed to the Court upon the following issues:
I. WHETHER OR NOT ATTENDING A CHRISTMAS PARTY AS REQUIRED BY THE
OFFICE IS AN OFFICIAL FUNCTION AND THAT ANY UNTOWARD INCIDENT
COMMITTED DURING SUCH CHRISTMAS PARTY IS AUTOMATICALLY CONSIDERED
SERVICE RELATED AND THAT THE OFFENDER COULD BE LIABLE FOR GRAVE
MISCONDUCT?
II. WHETHER OR NOT THE ALLEGED ACT COMMITTED BY THE PETITIONER WAS
INTIMATELY RELATED TO HIS OFFICE IN ORDER TO CONSIDER IT AS GRAVE
MISCONDUCT IN THE CONTEMPLATION OF THE LAW.
III. WHETHER OR NOT THE PENALTY OF DISMISSAL IS UNJUST AND EXCESSIVE. 15
Ruling of the Court
The appeal has no merit.
Misconduct is intentional wrongdoing or deliberate violation of a rule of law or standard of behavior.
To constitute an administrative offense, misconduct should relate to or be connected with the
performance of the official functions and duties of a public officer. In grave misconduct, as
distinguished from simple misconduct, the elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law, or
flagrant disregard of an established rule must be manifest.16
In accordance with Section 46 of Subtitle A, Title I, Book V of the Administrative Code of 1987
(Executive Order No. 292), misconduct is among the grounds for disciplinary action, but no officer or
employee in the Civil Service shall be suspended or dismissed except for cause as provided by law
and after due process. It is cogent to mention that the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative
Cases in the Civil Service , which governs the conduct of disciplinary and non-disciplinary
proceedings in administrative cases, classifies grave misconduct as a grave administrative offense. 17

Did Ganzons act of aiming his loaded firearm at Arlos and menacing him with it constitute grave
misconduct in the context of the foregoing provisions?
Undoubtedly it did. Drawing and pointing the loaded firearm at Arlos evinced the intent on the part of
Ganzon to cause some harm upon Arlos on whom he vented his resentment of the poor
performance rating he received. Considering that Ganzon pointed his loaded firearm at Arlos not
only once, but four times, Ganzons menacing acts engendered in the mind of Arlos the well-founded
belief that Arlos life could be in imminent danger. That the firearm exploded when Arlos parried
Ganzons firearm-wielding hand did not help dissipate the belief.
Nonetheless, Ganzon projects that his acts did not constitute grave misconduct in the contemplation
of the law because they were not committed in relation to his performance of duty; and that the
Christmas party was not an official function as to render any untoward incident committed on the
occasion thereof a misconduct. He posits that his offense could exist without the office; and that the
holding of the office was not a constituent element of his offense.
We disagree.
The Court stressed in Largo v. Court of Appeals18 the criteria that an act, to constitute a misconduct,
must not be committed in his private capacity and should bear a direct relation to and be connected
with the performance of his official duties.
Ganzons acts met the criteria in Largo v. Court of Appeals . To begin with, he was not acting in a
private capacity when he acted menacingly towards Arlos, it being clear that his resentment of his
poor performance rating, surely a matter that concerned his performance of duty, motivated his
confronting the latter. Moreover, it did not matter that his acts were committed outside of office hours,
because they were intimately connected to the office of the offender. An act is intimately connected
to the office of the offender if it is committed as the consequence of the performance of the office by
him, or if it cannot exist without the office even if public office is not an element of the crime in the
abstract. This was the thrust in Alarilla v. Sandiganbayan,19 with the Court citing ample
jurisprudence.20
In Alarilla v. Sandiganbayan , one of the two main issues was whether the crime of grave threats
charged against the accused had been committed in relation to his office. The resolution of the issue
would determine whether or not it was the Sandiganbayan that had jurisdiction to try him. The
accused contended that it was not established that the crime charged had been committed by him
while in the discharge of or as the consequence of his official functions as municipal mayor. He
pointed out that public office was not an essential ingredient of grave threats, the crime charged,
which could be committed with the same facility by a public officer and a private individual alike. The
Court resolved that the crime charged was properly within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan
because the amended information contained allegations showing that Alarilla had taken advantage
of his official functions as municipal mayor when he committed the crime of grave threats against the
complainant, a municipal councilor, by aiming a gun at and threatening to kill the latter on the
occasion of a public hearing during which the latter delivered a privilege speech critical of Alarillas
administration. The Court explained that the crime charged was "intimately connected with the
discharge of Alarillas official functions" because the crime charged was Alarillas response to the

complainants attack against his performance as a mayor; and that if Alarilla was not the mayor, "he
would not have been irritated or angered by whatever private complainant might have said during
said privilege speech."21
Considering that Ganzon resented the poor performance rating he had received, and his resentment
caused his aggressive confrontation of Arlos, it definitely appears that Ganzons offense could not be
separated from his performance of duty. Indeed, under Alarilla v. Sandiganbayan and its progenitor
rulings, an act that is the consequence of the discharge of the employees official functions or the
performance of his duties, or that is relevant to his office or to the discharge of his official functions is
justly considered as service-related.
The fact that the acts of Ganzon were committed within the premises of the DILG Regional Office
No. 6 strengthens our view that such acts could not but be connected to Ganzons public
employment. Verily, the Court has regarded the commission of offensive overt acts by public officials
and employees within the premises of their public offices to be deserving of administrative
reprobation.
For instance, in Quiroz v. Orfila,22 the court employees conduct of shouting at each other and
quarreling within the court premises and during working hours were considered as exhibiting
discourtesy and disrespect to their co-workers and to the court itself. Their behavior was held to be
contrary to the ethical standard demanded by Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical
Standards for Public Officials and Employees).
Another illustrative instance is Baloloy v. Flores,23 where the respondent Sherwin M. Baloloy was
charged with misconduct because:
x x x complainant alleged that as he was going back to his office after delivering court documents, he
noticed respondent sitting on a bench, staring menacingly at him. Without any warning, respondent
stood up and boxed him several times in the face. To avoid further harm, complainant ran towards
room 315 and once he was inside, the secretary therein locked the door. Respondent pursued him
and started kicking and banging at the door, all the while shouting invectives at him. Respondent left
after apparently sensing the alarm he was causing.
A few minutes after respondents left, complainant left room 315 accompanied by a friend named
Demet. They went to respondents office to report the incident to respondents superior. When they
got there, however, they saw respondent holding a screwdriver, provoking them to fight. The branch
clerk of court intervened and requested Demet to take complainant to the hospital. x x x.
Finding both the complainant as legal researcher and the respondent as process server guilty of
misconduct, the Court ruled that:
We have time and again emphasized that the conduct and behavior or everyone connected with an
office charged with the administration of justice must at all times be characterized by propriety and
decorum. This Court will not tolerate misconduct committed by court personnel, particularly during
office hours and within court premises. Such misconduct shows a total lack of respect for the court,
and erodes the good image of the judiciary in the eyes of the public.

Both complainant and respondent have fallen short of the standard of conduct required of court
employees. Fighting with each other during working hours shows disrespect not only of coworkers
but also of the court.24(Emphasis supplied)
Although court employees were involved in the foregoing situations, while the conduct of an
employee of the DILG is the focus herein, the same considerations taken into account in the former
are applicable herein.
Even if the affair occurred outside of the regular work hours, Ganzons menacing attitude towards
Arlos still had no excuse, particularly as Arlos was his superior in the office hierarchy. Section 4(c) of
RA 6713 (Code of Conduct Standards for Public Officials and Employees) fittingly provides:
(c) Justness and sincerity. Public officials and employees shall remain true to the people at all
times. They must act with justness and sincerity and shall not discriminate against anyone,
especially the poor and the underprivileged. They shall at all times respect the rights of others, and
shall refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy, public order,
public safety and public interest. (Emphasis supplied)
It is almost superfluous to remind all public employees like Ganzon that the law of good manners
and proper decorum was law during as well as outside office hours.
Another ground for Ganzons appeal was that the administrative case should not have been resolved
independently of the criminal case; and that his eventual acquittal in the criminal case precluded his
administrative liability.
Again, the Court disagrees.
We uphold the CAs following rumination on the matter, viz:
x x x. The mere fact that he was acquitted in the criminal case (said criminal case was based on the
same facts or incidents which gave rise to the instant administrative case) does not
ipso facto absolve him from administrative liability. Time and again, the Supreme Court has laid
down the doctrine that an administrative case is not dependent on the conviction or acquittal of the
criminal case because the evidence required in the proceedings therein is only substantial and not
proof beyond reasonable doubt.25
An administrative case is, as a rule, independent from criminal proceedings. The dismissal of a
criminal case on the ground of insufficiency of evidence or the acquittal of an accused who is also a
respondent in an administrative case does not necessarily preclude the administrative proceeding
nor carry with it relief from administrative liability. This is because the quantum of proof required in
administrative proceedings is substantial evidence, unlike in criminal cases which require proof
beyond reasonable doubt. Substantial evidence, according to Section 5 of Rule 133, Rules of Court,
is "that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a
conclusion." In contrast, proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean such a degree of proof as,
1wphi1

excluding possibility of error, produces absolute certainty; moral certainty only is required, or that
degree of proof which produces conviction in an unprejudiced mind. 26
Finally, Ganzons insistence that the penalty of dismissal from the service imposed on him was
unjustified and excessive is unwarranted.
After being duly found guilty of grave misconduct, Ganzon was rightly meted the penalty of dismissal
from the service for his first offense conformably with the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative
Cases in the Civil Service,27 to wit:
RULE IV
Penalties
Section 52. Classification of Offenses. Administrative offenses with corresponding penalties are
classified into grave, less grave or light, depending on their gravity or depravity and effects on the
government service.
A The following are grave offenses with their corresponding penalties:
1. Dishonesty;
xxxx
3. Grave Misconduct;
1st offense Dismissal (Emphasis supplied)
In this regard, Section 56 and Section 58 of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in
the Civil Service respectively state that the penalty of dismissal shall result in the permanent
separation of the respondent from the service, with or without prejudice to criminal or civil liability,
and shall carry with it cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and the perpetual
disqualification from re-employment in the government service, unless otherwise provided in the
decision.
The Court deems it worthwhile to emphasize as a final word that the imposition of the correct
disciplinary measures upon erring public officials and employees has the primary objective of the
improvement of the public service and the preservation of the public s faith and confidence in the
Government. The punishment of the erring public officials and employees is secondary, but is
nonetheless in accord with the Constitution, which stresses in Section 1 of its Article XI that a public
office is a public trust, and commands that public officers must at all times be accountable to the
people, whom they must serve with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency.
WHEREFORE the Court AFFIRMS the decision promulgated by the Court of Appeals and ORDERS
petitioner Rolando Ganzon to pay the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 80270 February 27, 1990


CITY MAYOR OF ZAMBOANGA, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS AND EUSTAQUIO C. ARGANA, respondents.

GANCAYCO, J.:

Public office is a public trust. All government officials and employees must at all times be
accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency act
with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives. 1 This constitutional mandate should always be in the
minds of all public servants to guide them in their actions during their entire tenure in the government
service.
Upon appointment to a public office, an officer or employee is required to take his oath of office
whereby he solemnly swears to support and defend the Constitution, bear true faith and allegiance
to the same; obey the laws, legal orders and decrees promulgated by the duly constituted
authorities; and faithfully discharge to the best of his ability the duties of the position he will hold.
Yet, time and again, We hear of public servants acting in utter defiance of the principles enshrined in
the Constitution and in complete disregard of what they swore in the name of God before assuming
their posts in the public service. Consequently, the people's trust and faith in the government has
slowly eroded. There in very little respect and confidence left.
This in turn has resulted in a widespread feeling of disappointment and dissatisfaction in the
government machinery. Gone are the days when one of the shining ambitions of a college graduate
was to have a career in the civil service; when working in the government meant self-fulfillment.
Now, young and talented graduates shy away from the public service which is unfortunately
perceived to be unattractive and totally lacking in luster. It is only when those in the government
sector serve with the highest degree of responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency and act in
accordance with the tenets of the Constitution can such lost respect and confidence be regained.
This case is typical of what a public servant should not be.
The Chief Veterinarian of Zamboanga City, a civil servant, is the private respondent herein. Three
female employees of the Office of the City Veterinarian of Zamboanga City headed by private
respondent, filed an administrative complaint against him for Dishonesty, Oppression and
Disgraceful and Immoral Conduct for the following acts he allegedly committed
Against Mrs. Pilar N. de los Santos
for inviting and/or insisting, on several occasions, that
she go with respondent to the Zamboanga Plaza
Hotel, Zamboanga City, and by deliberately
suggesting that her husband should not have any
knowledge of his proposals and suggesting further
that she should not report for work any more but for
her to wait in the premises of the Macatangay Drug
Store, Zamboanga City, so that both of them can later
proceed to the Zamboanga Plaza Hotel; for contriving
and/or manuevering to assign her husband, Expedito
de los Santos, to remote districts in the East Coast of
the City in order that he (Argana) can conveniently
pursue his amorous intentions and solicitations
towards her; and for persisting to bother her and

trying to convince her to establish an illicit relation


with him, promising that her husband will never know
about it anyway.
Against Mrs. Ma. Carmen G. (Alpichi)
For his persistent act of inviting her on several
occasions to go with him to discreet eateries, and on
one occasion, to dine and drink with him at the Happy
Landing Restaurant at the Zamboanga City Airport
during office hours in order to persuade her to accept
his amorous advances and even offered her money
as capital for a sari-sari store; and in taking her to
dine and drink with him in a certain store owned by
Olegario Barrios at Ayala, Zamboanga City, during
office hours, which lasted until 6:00 o'clock in the
evening and made several amorous passes at her.
Against Mrs. Rosa Sonia Guevarra
For inviting her to accompany him in his jeep to go out
on official missions but instead taking her to a
canteen inside the Edwin Andrews Air Base,
Zamboanga City, to be with him privately and then
subsequently inviting her to go and play bowling with
him and to have a date with him at the Sultana Hotel
the next day; and for offering her the amount of
P50.00 to convince her to submit to his amorous
intentions. 2
On November 31, 1983, in due course, the then Mayor of Zamboanga City, Hon. Cesar Climaco,
rendered a Decision, finding private respondent guilty of Disgraceful and Immoral Conduct and
penalizing him with "forced resignation from service with prejudice to reinstatement." Private
respondent appealed to the Civil Service Regional Director who referred the case to the Merit
Systems Board of the Civil Service Commission. The latter found private respondent guilty only of
Improper Conduct with a penalty of "reprimand and warning."
On appeal to the Civil Service Commission, the Decision of the Merit Systems Board dated January
4, 1985 was set aside and the Decision of Mayor Climaco finding private respondent guilty of
Disgraceful and Immoral Conduct was sustained. The penalty of "considered resigned from service
with prejudice to reinstatement" was reimposed on private respondent.
Again, private respondent filed an appeal this time with the Court of Appeals. On August 10, 1987,
the Court of Appeals rendered its Decision, setting aside the Decision of the Civil Service
Commission and reinstating that of the Merit Systems Board modifying the penalty thereof to "sixmonths suspension without pay with a stern warning that repetition of the same or similar offense will

be dealt with more severely." The Court of Appeals further ordered the reinstatement of private
respondent with full backwages after having served the penalty.
Not satisfied with the above-mentioned Decision of the Court of Appeals, the City Mayor of
Zamboanga filed this petition for review praying that the said Decision be set aside and that the
Decision of the Civil Service Commission penalizing respondent with forced resignation, be
reinstated.
The first assigned error is that the Court of Appeals erred in directing the payment of private
respondent's backwages to which the Solicitor General agrees. A review of the records of this case
and the applicable laws and jurisprudence reveal that the order of payment of back salaries to
private respondent is not valid.
Section 78 of the B.P. Blg. 337, otherwise known as the Local Government Code, provides for the
conditions under which a public servant who was suspended or dismissed by reason of an
administrative charge, may be entitled to full backwages, thus:
Sec. 78. Disciplinary Jurisdiction. (1) Except as otherwise provided by law, the
head of a local government unit shall have authority to remove, separate, suspend
and otherwise discipline officials and employees under his jurisdiction. If the penalty
imposed is suspension without pay for not more than thirty days, his decision shall be
final. If the penalty imposed is heavier, the decision shall be appealable to the Civil
Service Commission which has final authority upon all matters relating to the
conduct, discipline and efficiency of local government officials and employees. If the
respondent is in the career executive service, appeal shall be made to the Career
Service Board.
(2) An appeal shall not prevent a decision from becoming executory,
and in case the penalty is suspension or removal, the respondent
shall be considered as having been under preventive suspension
during the pendency of an appeal in the event he wins such
appeal. However, the respondent shall be paid his salary
corresponding to the period during which the appeal is pending in the
event he is completely exonerated.(Emphasis supplied.)
Under the above-quoted provision, it is required that private respondent must be exonerated of the
charges in order that he may be paid his back salaries. In the case at bar, it is quite apparent from
the facts that private respondent was not cleared of the charges. The Court of Appeals affirmed the
decision of the Merit and Systems Board which on the other hand found private respondent guilty of
"Improper Conduct." It is because of this finding of guilt that the Court of Appeals imposed a penalty
of six-months suspension on private respondent. Also, the stern warning handed down by the Court
of Appeals on private respondent that a "repetition of the same or similar offense will be dealt with
more severely" only shows that the said Court did not exonerate him of the offense.
In a long line of cases, 3 this Court reiterated the principle that back salaries may be ordered paid to an
officer or employee only if he is exonerated of the charge against him and his suspension or dismissal is

found and declared to be illegal. In Sales vs. Mathay, Sr., 4 this Court held that a postal clerk suspended
for six months for gross neglect of duty is not entitled to back salary if he cannot show that his suspension
was unjustified or that he is innocent of the charge.

Thus, the order of payment of full backwages in this case is without lawful basis. Indeed, to allow
private respondent to receive full back salaries would amount to rewarding him for his misdeeds and
compensating him for services that were never rendered.
As to the specific offense/s committed and the proper penalty to be imposed, the Court finds that
private respondent is guilty of "Disgraceful and Immoral Conduct" as well as "Grave Misconduct" and
must be meted the penalty of dismissal.
Under Memorandum Circular No. 30, series of 1989 issued by the Civil Service Commission,
"Disgraceful and Immoral Conduct" and "Grave Misconduct" are classified as grave offenses
punishable by dismissal. The acts of private respondent constituting the aforementioned
administrative offenses were duly established as shown in the following testimonies of his three
female subordinates:
From Mrs. Pilar de los Santos
That in connection with the respondent's invitation to
her to dine with him at the Zamboanga Plaza Hotel,
when she suggested to him that she bring her
husband along with her, respondent refused saying
that he will not enjoy while her husband is around
(TSN, p. 12); that suspicious of the respondent's
motive, she turned down the invitation (TSN, p. 14)-l
that the incident prompted her to tender her letter of
resignation from the office; that she told the incident
to Mr. Vicente Lacandalo, another employee in the
Office of the City Veterinarian; that Mr. Lacandalo
talked to respondent regarding the matter, then
respondent came out later of his room and he was
very mad at her; that she did not let her husband
know about the incident knowing that he has a bad
temper; that because of her repeated refusal to
accept respondent harassed her by refusing to sign
her clearance for transfer to the Sangguniang
Pampook; and that the respondent forced her to sign
a promissory note in connection with the lost
typewriter as a condition to approving her transfer to
the Sangguniang Pampook (TSN, pp. 17-26).
From Mrs. Ma. Carmen G. Alpichi

That she was a Livestock Inspector in the Office of the


City Veterinarian; that when the respondent learned
that her husband was about to leave for Manila to
attend a 45-day seminar, he (respondent) assigned
her at the airport as Quarantine Officer and while
there, he frequented visiting her and everytime he
visits her, he invites her to a snack or lunch; that
respondent keeps on asking her when her husband
will arrive (TSN, p. 45); that she noticed respondent's
amorous intentions towards her from 1979 (TSN, p.
45); that when she informed her husband about it, he
advised her to be more careful; that she can
remember that Argana invited her three (3) times to
dine with him, and she went with him to the Sandwich
Restaurant in Atilano for about three (3) hours at
about 8:30 in the morning, during office hours, on the
first occasion; and for about 30 minutes on the
second occasion; while it lasted from 10:00 o'clock in
the morning to 12:00 o'clock noon on the third
occasion (TSN, pp. 49 & 50); that when she asked the
respondent to recommend the renewal of her
appointment he asked her what gift she is willing to
give him and that in answer thereto she said that she
will do her job very well and show that she is
interested in her work, but to which respondent
replied that 'it is not a gift;' that, therefore, she asked
him what gift he really wanted and to which he replied
'the gift which (1) she will give him with all (my) her
heart that as a woman, she felt that by that statement,
respondent wanted her to give herself to him (TSN, p.
57); and that one time in the store of Olegario Barrios
in Ayala, Zamboanga City, while respondent and a
certain Mr. Policarpio were drinking beer, respondent
talked to her about sex to the effect that if a man will
convince (me) her to make sex, 'ansina daw ese sir, si
quiere daw eyo man sex con el hente maskin casao,
ya daw ansina' (that if a man will convince her to
make sex, a man, though married, may have sex with
another woman. (TSN, p. 61).
From Mrs, Rosa Sonia M. Guevarra
That she was a Meat and Livestock Inspector in the
Office of the City Veterinarian, Zamboanga City; that
she refused respondent's invitation to her to go with
him on bowling; that on September, 23, 1980 when

she went with respondent in his jeep he held her left


hand very tightly before she could alight from the said
jeep and then he offered her P50.00; that when she
told her father-in-law about the incident on the same
day he was very mad; that when she arrived at the
office in the afternoon of the same day she related the
incident to Mr. Honorato Loon, a co-employee; that
when she approached the respondent later for him to
sign her application for sick leave he asked her what
gift (you) she can give to (me) him if (I) he will sign
her leave,' to which she answered she can give (you)
him a bottle of wine ... and cigarettes,' but respondent
replied '(1) he can buy those things' because 'what he
really wanted is sexual intercourse (TSN, p. 110). 5
In determining what penalty must be imposed on private respondent, the Court took into
consideration the fact that there is here not only one but three complainants, all married at that. It
projects the abnormality of private respondent's behavior consisting of a libidinous desire for women
and the propensity to sexually harass members of the oppsite sex working with him.
The manner in which he communicated his desire for the complaining ladies proposing to meet
them at hotels, tempting them with money to submit to his advances and even coaching them to
avoid being caught by their husbands, depicts the private respondent's moral depravity.
What aggravates the situation is the undeniable circumstance that private respondent took
advantage of his position as the superior of the three ladies involved herein.
Being the chief of office, it was incumbent upon private respondent to set an example to the others
as to how they should conduct themselves in public office, to see to it that his subordinates work
efficiently in accordance with Civil Service Rules and Regulations, and to provide them with a
healthy working atmosphere wherein co-workers treat each other with respect, courtesy and
cooperation, so that in the end the public interest will be benefited.
On the contrary, private respondent, who was supposed to be the head of their office, goaded his
female subordinates to dine and drink with him during office hours; asked for "gifts" in exchange for
his official signature or favor; utilized his rank to get back at those who refused his advances and
those who sympathized with the latter; and even instructed one of them not to report for work but to
instead meet with him so that he could bring her to a hotel. Such acts of private respondent cannot
be condoned. He should not be let loose to pursue his lewd advances towards lady employees in
said office.
Indeed, to reinstate private respondent to his former position with full backwages would make a
mockery of the fundamental rule that a public office is a public trust and would render futile the
constitutional dictates on the promotion of morale, efficiency, integrity, responsiveness,
progressiveness and courtesy in the government service. 6 Likewise, reinstatement would place private

respondent in such a position where the persons whom he is supposed to lead have already lost their
respect for him and where his tarnished reputation would continue to hound him.

For the sake of his former subordinates, and for his own sake, and bearing in mind that a public
office must be held by a person who is both mentally and morally fit, the Court finds private
respondent guilty of "Disgraceful and Immoral Conduct" and "Grave Misconduct" in office and he is
hereby imposed the penalty of dismissal pursuant to the provisions of Civil Service Commission
Memorandum Circular No. 30, series of 1989.
WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 06835 is REVERSED. The
Decision of the Civil Service Commission in CSC Case No. 2322 dated July 10, 1985 is hereby
reinstated, with the modification that the penalty to be imposed on private respondent should be that
of dismissal. The Court makes no pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 188066

October 22, 2014

OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN, Petitioner,


vs.
CYNTHIA E. CABEROY, Respondent.
DECISION
REYES, J.:
This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court of the Decision dated November 21,
2008 and Resolution dated May 14, 2009 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 03498,
which reversed and set aside the Consolidated Decision dated June 30, 2005 of the Office of the
Ombudsman-Visayas (Ombudsman) and absolved respondent Cynthia E. Caberoy (Caberoy) of any
administrative liability.
1

Caberoy is the principal of Ramon Avancea National High School (RANHS) in Arevalo, Iloilo City.
She was charged with Oppression and Violation of Section 3(e) and (f) ofRepublic Act (R.A.) No.
3019 or the "Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act"by Angeles O. Tuares (Tuares) for allegedly
withholding her salary for the month of June 2002. The case was docketed as OMB-V-A-03-0239-E.
Saidcase was consolidated with OMB-V-A-03-0572-I, which was a complaint filed by Tuares against
Ida B. Endonila, Erlinda G. Gencaya, Clarissa G. Zamora and Victoria T. Calunsod.

Caberoy denied the charge against her, alleging, among others, that the payrolls of June 1 to15,
2002 and June16 to 30, 2002 show that Tuares received her salary as shown by her signatures on
lines no. 11 of the payrolls.
5

In the Consolidated Decision dated June 30, 2005 rendered by the Ombudsman, Caberoy was
found guilty of Oppression and was meted out the penalty of dismissal from service. The dispositive
portion of the consolidated decision provides:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, respondent CYNTHIA E. CABEROY, Principal II, Ramon
Avancea National High School, (RANHS), Arevalo, Iloilo City, is hereby found GUILTY of
OPPRESSION and is hereby meted the penalty of DISMISSAL FROM THE SERVICE WITH
CANCELLATION OF CIVIL SERVICE ELIGIBILITY, FORFEITURE OFEARNED LEAVECREDITS
AND RETIREMENT BENEFITS, AND DISQUALIFICATION FROM REEMPLOYMENT IN THE
GOVERNMENT SERVICE. On the other hand, respondents IDA B. ENDONILA, Schools Division
Superintendent, ERLINDA G. GENCAYA, Asst. Schools Division Superintendent, CLARISSA G.
ZAMORA, Administrative Officer III, all three of the Division of Iloilo City, DepEd Region VI, Iloilo City,
and VICTORIA T. CALUNSOD, Officer-In-Charge/Secondary School Head Teacher III, Ramon
Avancea National High School, (RANHS) Arevalo, Iloilo City, are found NOT GUILTYof the same
offense and/or violating Sec. 3 (f) of R.A. 3019and thus these cases are considered DISMISSED as
far as they are concerned. Furthermore, on the administrative aspect of the counter-allegation of
Perjury against herein complainant ANGELES O. TUARES, Ramon Avancea National High School,
Arevalo, Iloilo City, the same is likewise DISMISSED, for lack of merit.
SO DECIDED.

Caberoy filed a joint motion for reconsideration, which was denied by the Ombudsman in its Order
dated September 19, 2006.
7

The Ombudsman found that Tuares was not paid any amount in June 2002 because of her failure to
submit her clearance and Performance Appraisal Sheet for Teachers (PAST), while the other
teachers received their salaries for the same month. The Ombudsman concluded that Tuares was
"singled out by respondent Caberoy as the only one who did not receive any amount from the school
on June 2002 because, as established earlier, the former failed to submit her clearance and
PAST." The Ombudsman also took into consideration several infractions previously committed by
Caberoy, which allegedly displayed her "notoriousundesirability as a government officer for
withholding teachers salaries without authority." According to the Ombudsman, Caberoy could not
honestly claim that she had not been forewarned by the Ombudsman of the grave consequences of
her repeated illegal act. Caberoy filed a petition for certiorariwith the CA, seeking the reversal of her
dismissal from service, and in the assailed Decision dated November 21, 2008, the CA granted
Caberoys petition. The dispositive portion of the CA decision states:
8

10

11

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The consolidated decision dated June 30, 2005, of the
respondent Ombudsman is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and another judgment is hereby
rendered ABSOLVING the petitioner of any liability, with costs de oficio.
SO ORDERED.

12

The Ombudsman filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied by the CA in the assailed
Resolution dated May 14, 2009.
In clearing Caberoy from the charge against her, the CA found that no undue injury was caused to
Tuares since she received her June 2002 salary. According to the CA, since Caberoy was charged

with Violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 and the element of undue injury is absent in this case,
Caberoy cannot be held liable for the offense. The CA also ruled that Caberoys "refusal" to release
Tuares salary was justified and the element of "failure to so act x x x for the purpose of obtaining,
directly or indirectly, from any person interested in the matter some pecuniary or material benefit or
advantage in favor of an interestedparty, or [discrimination] against another" under Section 3(f) of
R.A. No. 3019, is likewise absent. Finally, the CA found that the acts of Caberoy are not constitutive
of oppression.
13

14

15

Lastly, the CA ruled that the Ombudsmans findings and conclusions are not supported by
substantial evidencesince Caberoys act of withholding Tuares salaries was clearly justified. Hence,
the present petition, based on the ground that:
16

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS REVERSAL OF THE PETITIONER OFFICE OF THE


OMBUDSMANS DECISION FINDING [CABEROY] ADMINISTRATIVELY LIABLE FOR
OPPRESSION IS AN ERROR OF LAW CONSIDERING THAT ITS FINDINGS IS SUPPORTED BY
SUBSTAN[T]IAL EVIDENCE.
17

The Ombudsman argues that it was error for the CA to exonerate Caberoy on the reasons that the
withholding of Tuares salary was justified and that there was no undue injury onher part as she later
received her salary. The Ombudsman contends that Caberoy was found guilty of Oppression, which
is an administrative offense under the Civil Service law, and is distinct from the crime of Violation of
R.A. No. 3019, from which she was absolved. According to the Ombudsman, the quantum of proof in
these two offenses (Oppression and Violation ofR.A. No. 3019) is distinct and the records of the
case disclose that there is substantial evidence to support its decision. The Ombudsman also
contests the factual findings of the CA that Tuares actually received her salary, stating that in the
summary of payrolls and the checks, Tuares name does not appear. Moreover, no evidence was
presented by Caberoy to prove that Tuares actually received her salary, other than her bare
allegation. Finally, the Ombudsman states that Caberoy has already been penalized several times
for previous misconduct, which displays her propensity to commit the misdemeanor.
18

Ruling of the Court


Initially, it must be stated thatin a petition for review filed under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, the
Court is limited only to a review of errors of law committed by the CA, and the Court is not required
to review all over again the evidence presented before the Ombudsman. The rule, nevertheless,
admits of exceptions, such as when the findings of the CA and the Ombudsman are
conflicting, which is what occurred in the present case. Hence, the Court must now look into the
matter of whether the CA committed a reversible error when it reversed the findings and conclusions
of the Ombudsman.
19

20

Tuares charged Caberoy in OMB-V-A-03-0239-E with both Oppression and Violation of Section 3(e)
(f) of R.A. No. 3019. The Ombudsman, however, found Caberoy guilty only of Oppression.
Oppression is an administrative offense penalized under the Uniform Rules on Administrative
Cases in the Civil Service, which provides:
21

22

Section 52. Classification of Offenses.Administrative offenses with corresponding penalties are


classified into grave, less grave or light, depending on their gravity or depravity and effects on the
government service.
A. The following are grave offenses with their corresponding penalties:

xxxx
14. Oppression.
1st Offense Suspension for six (6) months and one (1) day to one (1) year;
2nd Offense Dismissal.
xxxx
Oppression is also known as grave abuse of authority, which is a misdemeanor committed by a
public officer, who under color of his office, wrongfully inflict upon any person any bodily harm,
imprisonment or other injury. It is an act ofcruelty, severity, or excessive use of authority. To be held
administratively liable for Oppression or Grave Abuse of Authority, there must be substantial
evidence presented proving the complainants allegations. Substantial evidence is that amount of
relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept asadequate to support a conclusion. In
this case, the CA correctly overturned the Ombudsmans findings and conclusions, and explained
the reasonsfor exculpating Caberoy, as follows:
23

24

25

Evidently, from the foregoing disquisitions, respondent Ombudsman contradicted itself when it found
and held thatpetitioner was guilty of "oppression" for not paying the private respondent her June
2002 salary, because as a matter of fact she has been paidalbeit delayed. Such payment is clearly
and indubitably established from the table where it was shown that private respondent received on
July 17 and 25, 2002, her June 2002 salary in the amounts of P4,613.80 and P4,612.00,
respectively.
xxxx
The above narration of facts do not show that petitioner committed acts constitutive of "oppression."
Assuming petitioners action is erroneous or overly zealous, this certainly does not merit the most
severe penalty of dismissal from government service. Apparently, the petitioner is only protecting
herself from any future, adverse consequences if she allows the disbursement of public funds
without the appropriate supporting documents. "It is a well-known fact that in the government service
an employee must submit his daily time record duly accomplished and approved before one
cancollect his salary."
xxxx
Finally, on the contention that the findings and conclusions of the respondent Ombudsman is
considered conclusive and deserve respect and finality is true only when the same is based on
substantial evidence. As discussed above, the action taken by petitioner in withholding the salaries
of private respondent was clearly justified. It was a measure taken by a superior against a
subordinate who ignored the basic tenets of law by not submitting the required documents to support
payment of her salary and proportional vacation pay for the aforesaid period. x x x.
x x x [I]n this case before us, the records is bereft of substantial evidence to support respondent
Ombudsmans findings and conclusion that petitioner committed oppressive acts against private
respondent and violated Sections 3(e) and (f) of RA 3019. On the contrary and as earlier discussed,
respondent Ombudsman found and concluded that private respondent was paid her June
salaryalbeit late. Hence, it cannot be gainsaid that the act of respondent Ombudsman in concluding
that petitioner is guilty as charged despite absence of substantial evidence to support the same is

totally unfounded and is therefore, tantamount to grave abuse of discretion amounting to a lack or
excess of discretion. x x x. (Citations omitted)
26

The complaint filed by Tuares against Caberoy charged the latter with "manifest partiality, evident
bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence for having ordered the payroll clerk of [RANHS] to cause
the exclusion of [her] name in the payroll of June 2002 x x x and [in spite of] the fact that [she has
already] rendered full service during said days x x x without any justifiable reason and without due
process and without any authority under the law." A perusal of Tuares allegations shows that her
claim pertains to the alleged withholding of her salary for the month of June 2002. Records show,
however, that Tuares was actually paid her salary for the month of June 2002. Thus, the vouchers
for the payroll period of June 1 to 15, 2002 and June 16 to 30, 2002 showed Tuares name on line
11 and her signature acknowledging receipt of her salary for such period. This was, in fact,
confirmed in the 2002 salary payrolls submitted by the RANHS Office of the Auditor and summarized
by the Ombudsman, to wit:
27

28

29

30

Period

Voucher No.

Tuares No. in the


Payroll

Date of Check

Amount
Received

June (Proportional pay &


salary)

101-02-6161

June 25, 2002

Name not Found

Name not Found

June (Proportional pay)

101-02-6164

June 28, 2002

Name not Found

Name not Found

June (Proportional pay)

PS-02-7-182

July 4, 2002

Name not Found

Name not Found

June (Proportional pay &


salary)

PS-02-7-195

July 17, 2002

11

P4,613.80

June (Proportional pay)

PS-02-7-196

July 19, 2002

Name not Found

Name not Found

June

PS-02-7-200

July 25, 2002

11

P4,612.00

July

101-02-8231

August 19,
2002

16

P4,694.72

1wphi1

The amounts received and signed for by Tuares correspond essentially to the other amounts she
received as salaryfor the other periods in 2002. On this score, entries in the payroll, being entries in
the course of business, enjoy the presumption of regularity under Section 43, Rule 130 of the Rules
of Court, and absent any evidence presented by Tuares showing the contrary, good faith must be
presumed in the preparation and signing of such payrolls.
31

32

Even assuming, as the Ombudsman asserted, that Tuares received her June 2002 salary only on
July 2002, the same does not constitute Oppression or Grave Abuse of Authority. The delay in the
release of Tuares salary hardly qualifies as an "act of crueltyor severity or excessive use of
authority," especially when she contributed to the cause of the delay, that is, she submitted her Form
48 (Daily Time Record) for June 2002 only on July 11, 2002.
33

Neither can the Court subscribe to the Ombudsmans conclusion that Tuares was singled out by
Caberoy.According to the Ombudsman:
In other words, as far as these fortunate teachers are concerned, checks dated June 25 and 28,
2002 and July 04 and 19, 2002 actually and in paper covered their June 2002 salary; checks dated
July 17 and 19, 2002 actually and in paper covered their July 2002 salary; x x x.

Whereas on the part of complainant Tuares, this is what really happened: The checks dated July 17
and 25, 2002 were technically for services rendered in June 2002 ascorrected by COA but the
amounts corresponding to complainants salaryfor the whole month of June 2002 was actually
received by her only in July 2002 and that in effect means that she did not really receive any amount
from the school in June 2002; x x x.
Viewed from the discussion above, it is therefore crystal clear that complainant was singled out by
respondent Caberoy as the only one who did not receive any amount from the school on June 2002
because, as established earlier, the former failed to submit her clearance and PAST.
34

It must be stressed that like other grave offenses classified under the Civil Service laws, bad faith
must attend the act complained of. Bad faith connotes a dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity
and conscious doing of a wrong; a breach of sworn duty through some motive or intent or ill will; it
partakes of the nature of fraud. There must be evidence, independent of the fact of such delay,
which will lead to the inevitable conclusion that it was for the purpose of singling out Tuares. The
Court has consistently upheld the principle that in administrative cases, to be disciplined for grave
misconduct or any grave offense, the evidence against the respondent should be competent and
must be derived from direct knowledge. "Reliance on mere allegations, conjectures and
suppositions will leave an administrative complaint with no leg to stand on." Except for the
Ombudsmans deduction based on the dates of issuance of the vouchers and the checks as shown
in the payroll, the records of thiscase are bereft of evidence that will support its view that the delay in
the release of Tuares salary indicated that she was singled out. Moreover, as correctly pointed out
by the CA, "[t]he certifications issued by Acting Book keeper Hayde S. Momblan will show that it was
not only [Tuares] who was not included in the June 2002 payrolls; there were other teachers who
were not included because they failed to submit the required year-end clearance. x x x Evidently,
[Tuares] was not singled out or discriminated against as insisted by her and respondent
Ombudsman."
35

36

37

38

All told, the Court finds that the CA did not commit a reversible error in exonerating Caberoy from the
charge against her.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is DENIED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
BIENVENIDO L. REYES
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

G.R. No. 154083

February 27, 2013

OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN, Petitioner,


vs.
SAMSON DE LEON, Respondent.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
A public official is guilty of grave misconduct when he neglects to act upon a complaint about a
violation of the law he is enforcing. He may be suspended or dismissed from office for his first
offense.
The Office of the Ombudsman seeks the review and reversal of the decision promulgated on
January 30, 2002, whereby the Court of Appeals (CA) reduced to suspension for three months
without pay for simple neglect of duty the penalty of suspension for one yt:!ar without pay the Office
of the Ombudsman had imposed on respondent Samson De Leon (De Leon) upon finding him guilty
of neglect of duty. 1
Antecedents
Acting on a report of illegal quarrying being committed in the Municipality of Baras, Rizal, Graft
Investigation Officer Dante D. Tomilla of the Fact Finding Investigation Bureau (FFIB) of the Office of
the Ombudsman conducted an investigation pursuant to a mission order dated April 17, 1998.

On June 8, 1998, Tornilla filed his report to Ombudsman Aniano Desierto, through Assistant
Ombudsman Abelardo L. Aportadera, Jr. and Director Agapito B. Rosales,2 confirming the illegal
quarrying, to wit:
From the Municipal Hall, we proceeded to the quarrying area. Along our way, we have noticed a
dump truck loaded with quarrying materials coming from the quarrying site. At this juncture, we
signaled the truck driver to stop and then checked the drivers license, the truck registration while my
other companions took pictures of the truck.
Verification of the above hauler truck with Plate No. TKU-121 (Isuzu) is owned and operated by
Mayor Lito Tanjuatco of Tanay, Rizal. The truck driver, a certain Alfredo Casamayor Payot informed
this Investigator that he is paying One hundred (P100.00) Pesos per truckload of quarrying materials
to the quarry operator, a certain Mr. Javier.
xxxx
Jonathan Llagas, Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator denied knowing Mr. Javier nor
any quarrying activities going on in Baras, Rizal. When we informed him of our findings, he insisted
that the quarrying operations is within the jurisdictional area of Tanay, Rizal. To cut short our
discussion, we requested him to look and see the quarrying operations to determine the territorial
boundaries, whether it is a part of Baras or Tanay and to submit his findings and action taken on our
request. However, up to this writing, Jonathan Llagas failed to comply.
Per report received by the Office of the Assistant Ombudsman, EIO, stated that the quarrying
activities in Baras, Rizal is still going on the following day, Saturday, April 18, 1998, after our visit on
Friday, April 17, 1998, (p. 21, Records). With this information, this investigator proceeded back to the
Baras, Rizal and conducted ocular inspection on May 8, 1998, before proceeding to the Laguna
Lake Development Authority in Calauan, Laguna, in compliance with a Mission Order.
True enough, we were able to see for ourselves the continuing quarry operations and the quarried
stones, soil and materials were dumped to a portion of the Laguna de Bay thereby reclaiming said
portion allegedly to be developed as Resort and restaurant establishments. 3
Tornilla recommended that a preliminary investigation be conducted against Baras Municipal Mayor
Roberto Ferrera, Baras Municipal Planning and Coordinator Jonathan Llagas, and property owner
Venancio Javier for the probable violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and
Corrupt Practices Act); and that administrative proceedings for violations of the Civil Service Rules
be also undertaken.
In his report and recommendation dated July 13, 1998,4 DILG Resident Ombudsman Rudiger G.
Falcis II sought the inclusion in the investigation of De Leon as the Provincial Environment and
Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) and as concurrently the Chairman of the Provincial Mining
Regulatory Board (PMRB) of Rizal.
After the preliminary investigation, Graft Investigation Officer II Edgardo V. Geraldez of the FFIB,
Office of the Ombudsman, issued a decision dated April 29, 1999, 5 dismissing the complaint against

all the respondents for lack of substantial evidence. However, Assistant Ombudsman Aportadera, Jr.
recommended the disapproval of the said decision. Ombudsman Desierto approved the
recommendation of Assistant Ombudsman Aportadera, Jr.
The case was then referred to Atty. Sabino M. Cruz, Resident Ombudsman for the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), who ultimately submitted a memorandum on October
20, 19996, duly approved by the Ombudsman, finding De Leon liable for gross neglect of duty, as
follows:
WHEREFORE , it is respectfully recommended that:
xxxx
3) Respondent SAMSON G. DE LEON, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer, be
penalized with one (1) year suspension without pay, for Gross Neglect of Duty.7
xxxx
On December 2, 1999, De Leon moved for Reconsideration, 8 praying that the memorandum dated
October 20, 1999 be set aside.
On January 31, 2000, the Ombudsman denied De Leons motion for reconsideration. 9
On November 17, 1999, the DENR directed the Regional Executive Director of Region IV to effect
De Leons suspension. 10
Ruling of the CA
Aggrieved, De Leon appealed to the CA via a petition for review,11 seeking the reversal of the
memorandum dated October 20, 1999 and the order dated January 31, 2000 of the Ombudsman.
He averred as grounds of his appeal the following, namely:
I. PUBLIC RESPONDENT OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN ERRED AND COMMITTED
GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION, AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION, IN
DISREGARDING THE FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS EMBODIED IN THE DECISION
DATED 29 APRIL 1999.
II. PUBLIC RESPONDENT OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN ERRED AND COMMITTED
GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION, AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION, IN
FINDING THE PETITIONER LIABLE FOR GROSS NEGLECT OF DUTY.
III. PUBLIC RESPONDENTS ERRED AND COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION,
AMOUNTING TO LACK OF JURISDICTION, IN EFFECTING THE IMMEDIATE
EXECUTION OF THE PENALTY OF SUSPENSION FOR A PERIOD OF ONE YEAR, ON
THE PETITIONER.12

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), representing the Office of the Ombudsman, submitted its
comment on July 14, 2000,13 praying that De Leons petition for review be dismissed for its lack of
merit.
On January 30, 2002, the CA promulgated its assailed decision, viz:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Memorandum dated October 20, 1999 issued by the Office
of the Ombudsman in OMB-ADM-0-98-0414 is hereby MODIFIED in that petitioner SAMSON DE
LEON is hereby penalized with THREE (3) MONTHS SUSPENSION without pay for SIMPLE
NEGLECT OF DUTY. Furthermore, it appearing that he has already served such penalty, petitioner
is hereby ordered REINSTATED to his former position.
SO ORDERED.14
The Office of the Ombudsman sought reconsideration,15 but the CA denied its motion on June 21,
2002.
Issues
Dissatisfied, the Office of the Ombudsman appeals, contending that:
THE COURT OF APPEALS HAS DECIDED A QUESTION OF SUBSTANCE IN A WAY NOT IN
ACCORD WITH LAW OR WITH THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THIS HONORABLE COURT
CONSIDERING THAT:
I.
IT DECREED PRIVATE RESPONDENT LIABLE FOR SIMPLE NEGLECT OF DUTY
NOTWITHSTANDING THE UNDENIABLE FACT THAT HE FAILED TO PERFORM A TASK
WHICH IS CLEARLY REPOSED ON HIM ON A REGULAR BASIS AND WHICH BREACH
OF DUTY APPEARS FLAGRANT AND PALPABLE.
II.
IT SUBSTITUTED ITS FINDING TO THAT OF THE OMBUDSMAN WHEN NO COGENT
REASON EXISTS THEREFOR.
III.
IT HELD THAT THE DECISION OF THE OMBUDSMAN IS NOT IMMEDIATELY
EXECUTORY.16
The pivotal issue is whether or not the CA committed reversible error in modifying the findings and
reducing the penalty imposed by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Ruling

The petition for review on certiorari is meritorious.


In its assailed decision, the CA justified its modification of the decision of the Office of the
Ombudsman in the following manner, to wit:
In the case at bench, petitioner, although guilty of neglect in the performance of his official duties,
may only be held liable for Simple Neglect of Duty. Petitioners offense is not of such nature to be
considered brazen, flagrant and palpable as would amount to a Gross Neglect of Duty. As pointed
out by petitioner, as early as May 1997, upon the complaint of one Teresita G. Fabian, he ordered
the inspection of the subject property located in Baras, Rizal. Relying on the report of Forrester
Ferrer and Engineer Aide Velasquez, petitioner indorsed to the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board
the formers findings that there were "extraction" in the area. The same findings were likewise
forwarded to the Regional Executive Director of the DENR. A reinvestigation of the area was again
conducted in July 1997 upon petitioners instruction with the findings that there were no illegal
quarrying activities being undertaken in the premises although a payloader and a back hoe can be
seen in the area. Nonetheless, petitioner should not have merely relied on the reports and instead
confirmed such findings by personally proceeding to the premises and verifying the findings,
specially since the report cited the presence of large machineries, and that there was visible
extraction in the area. While the Court is not inclined to conclude that there were indeed illegal
quarrying activities in the area, nevertheless, prudence dictates that petitioner should have brought it
upon himself to confirm the findings of the investigation. Moreover, in this day and age where
environmental concerns are not to be trifled with, it devolves upon petitioner, as the Provincial
Environment and Natural Resource Officer, to oversee the protection and preservation of the
environment within his province. The Court cannot accept petitioners passing the buck, so to speak,
to the Regional Director of the DENR for to do so would be tolerating bureaucracy and inefficiency in
government service.
Be that as it may, as the Court previously stated, petitioners negligence does not amount to a gross
neglect of duty. Given that his neglect is not that odious, petitioner should only be liable for Simple
Neglect of Duty and should accordingly be meted out the penalty of three (3) months suspension
without pay.17
We disagree with the CA that De Leon was liable only for simple misconduct. An examination of the
records persuasively shows that the Office of the Ombudsman correctly held De Leon guilty of gross
neglect of duty, a grave offense punishable by dismissal even for the first offense. 18
A PENRO, who is appointed by the Secretary of the DENR, has the responsibility to implement
DENR policies, programs and projects in the province of his assignment. De Leon was appointed as
the PENRO of Rizal and concurrently the Chairman of the PMRB of Rizal. As such, his duties and
responsibilities included the following:
1. Plans, organizes, directs and coordinates the overall office and field activities and
operation of the province concerning environmental and natural resources
programs/projects;

2. Supervises and enforces discipline to personnel pertaining to norm and conduct in the
effective performance of tasks pursuant to manual operation guidelines and establish[ed]
practices;
3. Makes final review and correction of administrative and technical report submitted by
subordinates;
4. Coordinates with local government units, national office officials and other concern (sic)
parties related to the conduct and operation of the office;
5. Execute[s] and implement[s] policy, rules and regulations work programs and plans laid
down by the Regional Office;
6. Approves routine and non-policy determining papers and renders administrative and
technical decision(s) within the limit(s) of delegated authorities;
7. Occasionally conduct[s] field inspection to obtain on the spot information about the needs
and problems of the provincial office; and
8. Perform[s] such other duties as maybe (sic) assigned.19
Based on the Civil Service Position Description Form, 20 De Leon as the PENRO of Rizal was the
highest executive officer of the DENR at the provincial level. He had the authority to coordinate all
the DENR agencies within his jurisdiction, including the PMRB. In his concurrent positions as the
PENRO and Chairman of the PMRB, therefore, his paramount function was to ensure that the laws
enforced by the DENR as well as the rules and regulations promulgated by the DENR in
implementation of such laws were complied with and effectively implemented and enforced. Verily,
he was the primary implementor and enforcer within his area of responsibility of all the laws and
administrative orders concerning the environment, and because of such character of his concurrent
offices should have made sure that he efficiently and effectively discharged his functions and
responsibilities.
In the matter that is now before us, De Leon evidently neglected to efficiently and effectively
discharge his functions and responsibilities. Except for issuing the investigation order and for
denying having granted any permit to quarry, he did nothing affirmative to put a stop to the illegal
quarrying complained of, or to do any other action that was entirely within his power to do as the
PENRO that the complaint demanded to be done.
Relevantly, the CA itself also observed in its decision under review that De Leon had not done
enough as the circumstances obtaining in the case properly called for, to wit:
x x x Nonetheless, petitioner should not have merely relied on the reports and instead confirmed
such findings by personally proceeding to the premises and verifying the findings, specially since the
report cited the presence of large machineries, and that there was visible extraction in the area.
While the court is not inclined to conclude that there were indeed illegal quarrying activities in the
area, nevertheless, prudence dictates that petitioner should have brought it upon himself to confirm

the findings of the investigation. Moreover, in this day and age where environmental concerns are
not to be trifled with, it devolves upon petitioner, as the Provincial Environment and Natural
Resource Officer to oversee the protection and preservation of the environment with his province.
The Court cannot accept petitioners passing the buck so to speak. x x x. 21
Its foregoing observations notwithstanding, the CA still held De Leon guilty only of simple neglect of
duty.
The CA thereby erred.
Gross neglect of duty or gross negligence "refers to negligence characterized by the want of even
slight care, or by acting or omitting to act in a situation where there is a duty to act, not inadvertently
but wilfully and intentionally, with a conscious indifference to the consequences, insofar as other
persons may be affected. It is the omission of that care that even inattentive and thoughtless men
never fail to give to their own property."22 It denotes a flagrant and culpable refusal or unwillingness
of a person to perform a duty.23 In cases involving public officials, gross negligence occurs when a
breach of duty is flagrant and palpable.24
In contrast, simple neglect of duty means the failure of an employee or official to give proper
attention to a task expected of him or her, signifying a "disregard of a duty resulting from
carelessness or indifference."25
Conformably with these concepts, De Leon, given his rank and level of responsibility, was guilty of
gross neglect in not performing the act expected of him as the PENRO under the circumstances
obtaining. He was precisely assigned to perform tasks that imposed on him the obligation to do
everything reasonably necessarily and permissible under the law in order to achieve the objectives
of environmental protection. He could not feign ignorance of the Governments current efforts to
control or prevent environmental deterioration from all hazards, including uncontrolled mining and
unregulated illegal quarrying, but he chose to be passive despite clear indications of the illegal
quarrying activities that had been first brought to his official attention as early as in 1997 by Teresita
Fabian of the Provincial Tourism Office of Rizal. The most that he did on the complaint was to
dispatch two of his subordinates to verify the report of quarrying. After the subordinates returned with
the information that there were no quarrying activities at the site, he was apparently content with
their report. He was not even spurred into further action by the subordinates simultaneous report on
having observed at the site the presence of earthmoving equipment (specifically, a backhoe and a
payloader). Had he been conscientious, the presence of the earthmoving equipment would have
quickly alerted him to the high probability of their being used in quarrying activities at the site. We
presume that he was not too obtuse to sense such high probability. The seriousness of the matter
should have prodded him to take further actions, including personally inspecting the site himself
either to confirm the findings of the subordinates or to satisfy himself that the earthmoving equipment
was not being used for quarrying. By merely denying having granted any permit or unwarranted
benefit to any quarry operator, he seemingly considered the report of his subordinates satisfactory.
Curiously, De Leon contended that the responsibility to monitor any reported mining and quarrying
activities belonged to the Regional Director of the Mines and Geo-Sciences Bureau. His contention
was insincere, if not also ridiculous, however, considering that he was then the concurrent Chairman

of the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board, the office directly tasked with the implementation of all
environmental laws, rules and regulations.
The flagrant and culpable refusal or unwillingness of De Leon to perform his official duties denoted
gross neglect of duty also because the illegal quarrying had been going for a period of time. The
actions he took were inadequate, and could even be probably seen as a conscious way to mask a
deliberate and intentional refusal to perform the duties that his position required. He had no
justification for accepting the reports of his subordinates at face value despite indications to the
contrary. Making it worse for him was that the place where the quarrying was then taking place was
a mere stones throw away from the main road, being only about 400 meters away from the main
road.
In this connection, the Court observes that gross neglect of duty includes want of even slight care.
De Leons omission and indifference were definitely more than want of slight care, but were
tantamount to a wilful intent to violate the law or to disregard the established rules, which only
strengthened and confirmed his guilt of gross negligence.
The remaining question is whether or not the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman was
immediately executory. The question crops up from the insistence by De Leon that his penalty of
suspension for one year was not immediately executory.
The CA held that the one-year suspension meted on De Leon was not immediately executory, viz:
x x x. Book 5, Title 1, Chapter 6 of the Administrative Code of 1987 cited by the OSG is not
applicable as said rule governs administrative cases decided by the Civil Service Commission. In
this case, petitioner was adjudged liable by the Office of the Ombudsman, hence RA 6670 of the
Ombudsman Act of 1989 shall govern. In this regard, Section 27 of RA 6670 provides that (A)ny
order, directive, or decision, imposing the penalty of public censure or reprimand, a suspension of
not more than a months salary shall be final and unappealable." Logically, therefore, suspension of
more than one (1) month is not deemed final and executory. (Underscoring in the original)
There is no issue about the disciplinary authority of the Office of the Ombudsman over all elective
and appointive officials of the Government and its subdivisions, instrumentalities and agencies,
including Members of the Cabinet, local government, government-owned or controlled corporations
and their subsidiaries. The only officials not under its disciplinary authority are those who may be
removed only by impeachment, the Members of Congress, and the Justices and Judges of the
Judiciary. As to this, Republic Act No. 6770 (The Ombudsman Act of 1989) clearly provides, viz:
Section 21. Official Subject to Disciplinary Authority; Exceptions. The Office of the Ombudsman
shall have disciplinary authority over all elective and appointive officials of the Government and its
subdivisions, instrumentalities and agencies, including Members of the Cabinet, local government,
government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries, except over officials who may
be removed only by impeachment or over Members of Congress, and the Judiciary.
De Leon was subject to the disciplinary authority of the Office of the Ombudsman because he was
an appointive public official.26 Indeed, the power of the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate

extends to all kinds of malfeasance, misfeasance, and non-feasance that have been committed
during his tenure of office by any officer or employee of the Government, or of any subdivision,
agency or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations. 27 The
Office of the Ombudsman also has the power to act on all complaints relating, but not limited, to acts
or omissions that (1) are contrary to law or regulation; (2) are unreasonable, unfair, oppressive or
discriminatory; (3) are inconsistent with the general course of an agencys functions, though in
accordance with law; (4) proceed from a mistake of law or an arbitrary ascertainment of facts; (5) are
in the exercise of discretionary powers but for an improper purpose; or (6) are otherwise irregular,
immoral or devoid of justification.28 At the same time, the Office of the Ombudsman, in the exercise
of its administrative disciplinary authority, can impose the penalty of removal, suspension, demotion,
fine, censure, or prosecution of a public officer or employee found to be at fault. The exercise of all
such powers is well founded on the Constitution and on Republic Act No. 6770.
In Office of the Ombudsman v. Masing, and related cases,29 the Court, speaking through Chief
Justice Puno, has definitively recognized the full administrative disciplinary authority of the Office of
the Ombudsman, declaring that its authority does not end with a recommendation to punish, but
goes farther as to directly impose the appropriate sanctions on the erring public officials and
employees, like removal, suspension, demotion, fine, censure, or criminal prosecution; and
characterizing such imposition of sanctions to be not merely advisory or recommendatory but
actually mandatory, to wit:
In fine, the manifest intent of the lawmakers was to bestow on the Office of the Ombudsman full
administrative disciplinary authority in accord with the constitutional deliberations. Unlike the
Ombudsman-like agencies of the past the powers of which extend to no more than making findings
of fact and recommendations, and the Ombudsman or Tanodbayan under the 1973 Constitution who
may file and prosecute criminal, civil or administrative cases against public officials and employees
only in cases of failure of justice, the Ombudsman under the 1987 Constitution and R.A. No. 6770 is
intended to play a more active role in the enforcement of laws on anti-graft and corrupt practices and
other offenses committed by public officers and employees. The Ombudsman is to be an "activist
watchman," not merely a passive one. He is vested with broad powers to enable him to implement
his own actions.30
To resolve whether or not the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman was immediately executory,
we hereby hold that the decision is immediately executory, and that an appeal does not stop the
decision from being executory. This was clearly pronounced by the Court in Ombudsman v. Court of
Appeals,31 to wit:
The Court of Appeals held that the order of the Ombudsman imposing the penalty of dismissal is not
immediately executory. The Court of Appeals applied the ruling in Lapid v. Court of Appeals, that all
other decisions of the Ombudsman which impose penalties that are not enumerated in Section 27 of
RA 6770 are neither final nor immediately executory.
In Lapid v. Court of Appeals, the Court anchored its ruling mainly on Section 27 of RA 6770 , as
supported by Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman. The
pertinent provisions read:

Section 27 of RA 6770
SEC. 27. Effectivity and Finality of Decisions. (1) All provisionary orders at the Office of the
Ombudsman are immediately effective and executory.
A motion for reconsideration of any order, directive or decision of the Office of the Ombudsman must
be filed within five (5) days after receipt of written notice and shall be entertained only on any of the
following grounds:
(1) New evidence has been discovered which materially affects the order, directive or
decision;
(2) Errors of law or irregularities have been committed prejudicial to the interest of the
movant. The motion for reconsideration shall be resolved within three (3) days from
filing: Provided, That only one motion for reconsideration shall be entertained.
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 months salary shall be final and unappealable.
In all administrative disciplinary cases, orders, directives, or decisions of the Office of the
Ombudsman may be appealed to the Supreme Court by filing a petition for certiorari within
ten (10) days from receipt of the written notice of the order, directive or decision or denial of
the motion for reconsideration in accordance with Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
The above rules may be amended or modified by the Office of the Ombudsman as the interest
of justice may require. (Emphasis supplied)
Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman (AO 07):
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. (Emphasis supplied)
The Court held in Lapid v. Court of Appeals that the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the
Ombudsman "mandate that decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman where the penalty imposed is
other than public censure or reprimand, suspension of not more than one month salary are still
appealable and hence, not final and executory."
Subsequently, on 17 August 2000, the Ombudsman issued Administrative Order No. 14-A (AO 14-A),
amending Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman. The
amendment aims to provide uniformity with other disciplining authorities in the execution or

implementation of judgments and penalties in administrative disciplinary cases involving public


officials and employees. Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the
Ombudsman, as amended by AO 14-A, reads:
Section 7. Finality and execution 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 may be appealed within ten (10) days from receipt of
the written notice of the decision or order denying the motion for reconsideration.
An appeal shall not stop the decision from being executory. In case the penalty is suspension
or removal and the respondent wins such appeal, he shall be considered as having been under
preventive suspension and shall be paid the salary and such other emoluments that he did not
receive by reason of the suspension or removal.(Emphasis supplied)
1wphi1

On 15 September 2003, AO 17 was issued, amending Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the
Office of the Ombudsman. Thus, Section 7, Rule III of the Rules of Procedure of the Office of the
Ombudsman was further amended and now reads:
Section 7. Finality and execution 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, executory
and unappealable. In all other cases, the decision may be appealed to the Court of Appeals on a
verified petition for review under the requirements and conditions set forth in Rule 43 of the Rules of
Court, within fifteen (15) days from the receipt of the written Notice of the Decision or Order denying
the Motion for Reconsideration.
An appeal shall not stop the decision from being executory. In case the penalty is
suspension or removal and the respondent wins such appeal, he shall be considered as
having been under preventive suspension and shall be paid the salary and such other
emoluments that he did not receive by reason of the suspension or removal.
A decision of the Office of the Ombudsman in administrative cases shall be executed as a
matter of course. The Office of the Ombudsman shall ensure that the decision shall be strictly
enforced and properly implemented. The refusal or failure by any officer without just cause to comply
with an order of the Office of the Ombudsman to remove, suspend, demote, fine, or censure shall be
ground for disciplinary action against said officer. (Emphasis supplied)
Hence, in the case of In the Matter to Declare in Contempt of Court Hon. Simeon A.
Datumanong, Secretary of DPWH, the Court noted that Section 7 of AO 17 provides for
execution of the decisions pending appeal, which provision is similar to Section 47 of the
Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service.
More recently, in the 2007 case of Buencamino v. Court of Appeals, the primary issue was whether
the decision of the Ombudsman suspending petitioner therein from office for six months without pay
was immediately executory even pending appeal in the Court of Appeals. The Court held that the

pertinent ruling in Lapid v. Court of Appealshas already been superseded by the case of In the
Matter to Declare in Contempt of Court Hon. Simeon A. Datumanong, Secretary of DPWH, which
clearly held that decisions of the Ombudsman are immediately executory even pending
appea1."32 (Emphasis supplied)
WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the decision promulgated on January 30,
2002; HOLDS respondent SAMSON DE LEON guilty of GROSS NEGLECT OF DUTY, and
IMPOSES on him the penalty of SUSPENSION FROM OFFICE FOR ONE YEAR WITHOUT PAY;
and DIRECTS him to pay the costs of suit.
SO ORDERED.
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice

EN BANC
[G.R. No. 135805. April 29, 1999]
CIVIL

SERVICE
COMMISSION, petitioner,
DACOYCOY, respondent.

vs. PEDRO

O.

DECISION
PARDO, J.:

The case before us is an appeal via certiorari interposed by the Civil Service
Commission from a decision of the Court of Appeals ruling that respondent Pedro O.
Dacoycoy was not guilty of nepotism and declaring null and void the Civil Service
Commissions resolution dismissing him from the service as Vocational School
Administrator, Balicuatro College of Arts and Trade, Allen, Northern Samar.
The facts may be succinctly related as follows:

On November 29, 1995, George P. Suan, a Citizens Crime Watch Vice-President,


Allen Chapter, Northern Samar, filed with the Civil Service Commission, Quezon City, a
complaint against Pedro O. Dacoycoy, for habitual drunkenness, misconduct and
nepotism.[1]
After the fact-finding investigation, the Civil Service Regional Office No. 8, Tacloban
City, found a prima facie case against respondent, and, on March 5, 1996, issued the
corresponding formal charge against him. [2] Accordingly, the Civil Service Commission
conducted a formal investigation, and, on January 28, 1997, the Civil Service
Commission promulgated its resolution finding no substantial evidence to support the
charge of habitual drunkenness and misconduct. However, the Civil Service
Commission found respondent Pedro O. Dacoycoy guilty of nepotism on two counts as
a result of the appointment of his two sons, Rito and Ped Dacoycoy, as driver and utility
worker, respectively, and their assignment under his immediate supervision and control
as the Vocational School Administrator Balicuatro College of Arts and Trades, and
imposed on him the penalty of dismissal from the service. [3]

[4]

On February 25, 1997, respondent Dacoycoy filed a motion for reconsideration;


however, on May 20, 1997, the Civil Service Commission denied the motion. [5]

On July 18, 1997, respondent Dacoycoy filed with the Court of Appeals a special
civil action for certiorari with preliminary injunction[6] to set aside the Civil Service
Commissions resolutions.
On July 29, 1998, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision reversing and
setting aside the decision of the Civil Service Commission, ruling that respondent did
not appoint or recommend his two sons Rito and Ped, and, hence, was not guilty of
nepotism. The Court further held that it is the person who recommends or appoints who
should be sanctioned, as it is he who performs the prohibited act. [7]
Hence, this appeal.
On November 17, 1998, we required respondent to comment on the petition within
ten (10) days from notice.[8] On December 11, 1998, respondent filed his comment
We give due course to the petition.
The basic issue raised is the scope of the ban on nepotism.
We agree with the Civil Service Commission that respondent Pedro O. Dacoycoy
was guilty of nepotism and correctly meted out the penalty of dismissal from the service.

The law defines nepotism[9] as follows:

Sec. 59. Nepotism. (1) All appointments to the national, provincial, city and
municipal governments or in any branch or instrumentality thereof, including
government owned or controlled corporations, made in favor of a relative of
the appointing or recommending authority, or of the chief of the bureau or
office, or of the persons exercising immediate supervision over him, are
hereby prohibited.
As used in this Section, the word relative and members of the family referred
to are those related within the third degree either of consanguinity or of affinity.
(2) The following are exempted from the operations of the rules on nepotism:
(a) persons employed in a confidential capacity, (b) teachers, (c)physicians,
and (d) members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines: Provided, however,
That in each particular instance full report of such appointment shall be made
to the Commission.
Under the definition of nepotism, one is guilty of nepotism if an appointment is
issued in favor of a relative within the third civil degree of consanguinity or affinity of any
of the following:
a) appointing authority;
b) recommending authority;
c) chief of the bureau or office, and
d) person exercising immediate supervision over the appointee.

Clearly, there are four situations covered. In the last two mentioned situations, it is
immaterial who the appointing or recommending authority is. To constitute a violation of
the law, it suffices that an appointment is extended or issued in favor of a relative within
the third civil degree of consanguinity or affinity of the chief of the bureau or office, or
the person exercising immediate supervision over the appointee.
Respondent Dacoycoy is the Vocational School Administrator, Balicuatro College of
Arts and Trades, Allen, Northern Samar. It is true that he did not appoint or recommend
his two sons to the positions of driver and utility worker in the Balicuatro College of Arts
and Trades. In fact, it was Mr. Jaime Daclag, Head of the Vocational Department of the

BCAT, who recommended the appointment of Rito. Mr. Daclag's authority to recommend
the appointment of first level positions such as watchmen, security guards, drivers,
utility workers, and casuals and emergency laborers for short durations of three to six
months was recommended by respondent Dacoycoy and approved by DECS Regional
Director Eladio C. Dioko, with the provision that such positions shall be under Mr.
Daclags immediate supervision. On July 1, 1992, Atty. Victorino B. Tirol II, Director III,
DECS Regional Office VIII, Palo, Leyte, appointed Rito Dacoycoy driver of the
school. On January 3, 1993, Mr. Daclag also appointed Ped Dacoycoy casual utility
worker. However, it was respondent Dacoycoy who certified that funds are available for
the proposed appointment of Rito Dacoycoy and even rated his performance as very
satisfactory. On the other hand, his son Ped stated in his position description form that
his father was his next higher supervisor. The circumvention of the ban on nepotism is
quite obvious. Unquestionably, Mr. Daclag was a subordinate of respondent Pedro O.
Dacoycoy, who was the school administrator. He authorized Mr. Daclag to recommend
the appointment of first level employees under his immediate supervision. Then Mr.
Daclag recommended the appointment of respondents two sons and placed them under
respondents immediate supervision serving as driver and utility worker of the
school. Both positions are career positions.
To our mind, the unseen but obvious hand of respondent Dacoycoy was behind the
appointing or recommending authority in the appointment of his two sons. Clearly, he is
guilty of nepotism.
At this point, we have necessarily to resolve the question of the party adversely
affected who may take an appeal from an adverse decision of the appellate court in an
administrative civil service disciplinary case. There is no question that respondent
Dacoycoy may appeal to the Court of Appeals from the decision of the Civil Service
Commission adverse to him.[10] He was the respondent official meted out the penalty of
dismissal from the service. On appeal to the Court of Appeals, the court required the
petitioner therein, here respondent Dacoycoy, to implead the Civil Service Commission
as public respondent[11] as the government agency tasked with the duty to enforce the
constitutional and statutory provisions on the civil service. [12]
Subsequently, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Civil Service
Commission and held respondent not guilty of nepotism. Who now may appeal the
decision of the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court? Certainly not the respondent,
who was declared not guilty of the charge. Nor the complainant George P. Suan, who
was merely a witness for the government. [13] Consequently, the Civil Service
Commission has become the party adversely affected by such ruling, which seriously
prejudices the civil service system. Hence, as an aggrieved party, it may appeal the
decision of the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court. [14] By this ruling, we now

expressly abandon and overrule extant jurisprudence that the phrase party adversely
affected by the decision refers to the government employee against whom the
administrative case is filed for the purpose of disciplinary action which may take the
form of suspension, demotion in rank or salary, transfer, removal or dismissal from
office[15] and not included are cases where the penalty imposed is suspension for not
more then thirty (30) days or fine in an amount not exceeding thirty days salary [16] or
when the respondent is exonerated of the charges, there is no occasion for appeal. [17] In
other words, we overrule prior decisions holding that the Civil Service Law does not
contemplate a review of decisions exonerating officers or employees from
administrative charges enunciated in Paredes v. Civil Service Commission; [18] Mendez v.
Civil Service Commission;[19] Magpale v. Civil Service Commission;[20] Navarro v. Civil
Service Commission and Export Processing Zone Authority [21] and more recently Del
Castillo v. Civil Service Commission[22]
The Court of Appeals reliance on Debulgado vs. Civil Service Commission, [23] to
support its ruling is misplaced. The issues in Debulgado are whether a promotional
appointment is covered by the prohibition against nepotism or the prohibition applies
only to original appointments to the civil service, and whether the Commission had
gravely abused its discretion in recalling and disapproving the promotional appointment
given to petitioner after the Commission had earlier approved that
appointment. Debulgado never even impliedly limited the coverage of the ban on
nepotism to only the appointing or recommending authority for appointing a
relative. Precisely, in Debulgado, the Court emphasized that Section 59 means exactly
what it says in plain and ordinary language: x x x The public policy embodied in Section
59 is clearly fundamental in importance, and the Court had neither authority nor
inclination to dilute that important public policy by introducing a qualification here or a
distinction there.[24]
Nepotism is one pernicious evil impeding the civil service and the efficiency of its
personnel. In Debulgado, we stressed that [T]the basic purpose or objective of the
prohibition against nepotism also strongly indicates that the prohibition was intended to
be a comprehensive one.[25]The Court was unwilling to restrict and limit the scope of the
prohibition which is textually very broad and comprehensive. [26] If not within the
exceptions, it is a form of corruption that must be nipped in the bud or bated whenever
or wherever it raises its ugly head. As we said in an earlier case what we need now is
not only to punish the wrongdoers or reward the outstanding civil servants, but also to
plug the hidden gaps and potholes of corruption as well as to insist on strict compliance
with existing legal procedures in order to abate any occasion for graft or circumvention
of the law.[27]

WHEREFORE, the Court hereby GRANTS the petition and REVERSES the
decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 44711.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court REVIVES and AFFIRMS the resolutions of the Civil
Service Commission dated January 28, 1998 and September 30, 1998, dismissing
respondent Pedro O. Dacoycoy from the service.
No costs.

EN BANC
PO2 RUEL C. MONTOYA,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 180146


Present:

- versus -

POLICE
DIRECTOR
REYNALDO
P.
VARILLA,
REGIONAL
DIRECTOR,
NATIONAL
CAPITAL
REGION, POLICE OFFICE
and ATTY. RUFINO JEFFREY
L.
MANERE,
REGIONAL
LEGAL AFFAIRS SERVICE,
Respondents.

PUNO, C.J.,
QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
CARPIO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
AZCUNA,
TINGA,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,
REYES,
DE CASTRO, and
BRION, JJ.
Promulgated:

December 18, 2008


x---------------------------------------------------x
DECISION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of
Court seeking to nullify and set aside the Decision [1]dated 9 August 2007 and
Resolution[2] dated 18 October 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
96022, which affirmedResolutions No. 05-1200 and No. 06-1500 dated 24 August
2005 and 23 August 2006, respectively, of the Civil Service Commission (CSC),
dismissing petitioner Police Officer 2 (PO2) Ruel C. Montoya from the police
service.
The following are the factual antecedents:
Montoya, a member of the Philippine National Police (PNP), was assigned
to the Central Police District (CPD) in Quezon City, when the National Police
Commission (NAPOLCOM) issued Special Order No. 1044[3] on 9 September
1998 dropping him from the rolls, effective 15 August 1998, for failure to attend
the Law Enforcement and Enhancement Course (LEEC) at the Special Training
Unit, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), Camp Bagong Diwa,
Taguig City. Montoya had been absent without official leave (AWOL) for a period
of 67 days, from 23 January 1998 to 31 March 1998.
On 15 December 1998, four months after he was dropped from the rolls,
Montoya filed a Motion for Reconsideration thereof addressed to the PNP
Regional Director for the National Capital Region (NCR), explaining that on 22
January 1998, he went to the Baler Police Station/Police Station 2 to have his Sick
Leave Form approved by the station commander. Allegedly due to the fact that his
name had already been forwarded to the NCRPO for the LEEC, his Sick Leave
Form was not approved. Montoya averred that his failure to attend the LEEC was
beyond his control, since he was suffering from arthritis with on and off symptoms
of severe body pain. Montoya attached to his Motion a certification simply dated
1998, issued by a certain Dr. Jesus G. de Guzman, and authenticated by Police
Chief Inspector (P/CINSP.) Ethel Y. Tesoro, Chief, Medical Service, CPD.

Upon the recommendation of the Chief of the NCRPO Legal Division, the
NCR Regional Director issued on 11 June 1999 Special Order No. 990 canceling
Special Order No. 1044. Montoya was also preventively suspended for 30 days,
from 8 June to 8 July 1999, pending Summary Proceedings of his administrative
liability. The 67 days when Montoya went on absence without leave (AWOL) were
immediately deducted from his leave credits.
The Summary Dismissal Proceedings against Montoya were conducted by
Hearing Officer Police Superintendent (P/Supt.) Francisco Don C. Montenegro of
the Central Police District Office (CPDO), and based on his findings, the NCR
Regional Director rendered a Decision[4] on 23 June 2000 dismissing Montoya
from the police service for Serious Neglect of Duty (due to AWOL), effective
immediately. Montoya received a copy of said Decision on 20 July 2000.
Allegedly unassisted by counsel, Montoya filed on 1 August 2000 with the
CPD office a Petition for Review/Motion for Reconsideration [5] of the 23 June
2000 Decision of the NCR Regional Director, which he addressed to the PNP
Chief. In a Memorandum issued on 3 July 2002 by the Directorate for Personnel
and Records Management of the PNP Headquarters, Montoyas Petition/Motion
was denied for lack of jurisdiction, since a disciplinary action involving demotion
or dismissal from service imposed by a PNP regional director may only be
appealed to the Regional Appellate Board (RAB).
Montoya next filed on 2 September 2002 an appeal of the 23 June 2000
Decision of the NCR Regional Director before the RAB of the National Capital
Region (RAB-NCR), alleging lack of due process considering that he was not even
notified of any hearing by the Summary Hearing Officer and was thus deprived of
the opportunity to present evidence in his defense. The Summary Hearing Officer
in the Summary Dismissal Proceedings against him recommended his dismissal
from police service based on his failure to report for the LEEC, without even
looking into his side of the controversy.
On 11 December 2002, the RAB-NCR rendered its Decision [6] granting
Montoyas appeal and ordering his reinstatement. Pertinent provisions of the said
Decision read:
The Summary Hearing Officer (SHO), P/Supt. Francisco Don
Montenegro, conducted the hearing ex-parte on the basis only of the

Motion for Reconsideration filed by the [herein petitioner Montoya] in


which he categorically stated that on January 22, 1998, when he went to
Police Station 2 to have his sick leave form approved, he was informed
that his name was already forwarded to NCRPO to undergo LEEC
schooling. With that information, the SHO concluded that appellant, PO2
Montoya, should have proceeded to STU, NCRPO to inform his superior
about his physical predicament. However, [Montoya] did nothing to have
the officers of STU, NCRPO notified of his sickness in order that
appropriate actions can be instituted. Sixty-seven days is too long for a
period for [Montoya] to allow even one day of reporting to STU,
NCRPO to present his Medical Certificate and seek proper action for his
ailment. Thus, [Montoya] was ordered dismissed from the Police
Service.
xxxx
This Board, after careful review and evaluation of the records and
arguments/evidence presented by herein [Montoya] finds this appeal
meritorious and tenable. Nothing on the records would show that
[Montoya] was notified of the summary hearing conducted by the
Summary Hearing Officer nor was he given a chance to explain his side
and submit controverting evidence on his behalf. On the other hand,
what appeared on the record is the fact that the Summary Hearing
Officer, who was tasked to resolve this case, conducted the hearing exparte. Thereafter, he recommended for the [Montoyas] dismissal from
the police service on the ground that the latter failed to inform his
superiors about his physical predicament since [Montoya] did nothing to
have the officers of STU, NCRPO notified of his sickness in order that
appropriate actions can be instituted. Summary Hearing Officer further
concluded that sixty-seven days is too long for a period (sic) for
[Montoya] to allow even one day of reporting to STU, NCRPO to
present his Medical Certificate and seek proper action for his ailment.

The RAB-NCR decreed in the end:


WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the decision appealed from
is hereby reversed and movant-appellant PO2 Ruel Catud Montoya is
hereby ordered to be reinstated in the police service without loss of
seniority rights and with full payment of his salaries and backwages

covering the period effective from the time of his dismissal from the
service up to his reinstatement.[7]

Thereafter, the NCR Regional Director authorized Police Senior Superintendent


(P/SSupt.) Rufino Jeffrey L. Manere (Manere) to appeal several RAB-NCR
decisions involving different police officers,[8] including the Decision dated 11
December 2002 on Montoyas case, before the Department of Interior and Local
Government (DILG). The NCR Regional Director assailed the RAB-NCR decision
reinstating Montoya in the police service on the following grounds:
a. Failure to file a Notice of Appeal with the NCRPO prior to his
appeal to the Appellate Board, as provided by Sec. 2, Rule III, MC #
91-007;
b. The Board erred to take cognizance of the case despite the fact that
the decision of the NCRPO dated 23 June 2000 had already become
final and executory.
c. The Board erred in giving backwages despite the no work, no pay
policy.

On 8 August 2003, Montoya, together with the other police personnel [9] reinstated
in the service by RAB-NCR (hereinafter collectively referred to as Montoya, et
al.), filed before the DILG an Urgent Motion to Dismiss and/or Opposition to the
Appeal of the NCR Regional Director.
On 10 November 2003, DILG Secretary Jose D. Lina, Jr. issued an Order denying
the appeal of the NCR Regional Director.[10] DILG Secretary Lina noted that the
NCR Regional Director received a copy of the RAB-NCR decision on Montoyas
case on 10 February 2003, but it only appealed the same to the DILG on 30 April
2003, beyond the 15-day reglementary period for appeals. DILG Secretary Lina
also declared that neither Manere nor the NCR Regional Director has personality
to appeal the RAB-NCR decision to the DILG. The right to appeal from the
decision of the RAB to the DILG is available only to the active complainant or the
respondent who was imposed a penalty of demotion in rank, forced resignation, or
dismissal from the service. Manere, representing the NCR Regional Director, is not

a party complainant or a respondent aggrieved by the adverse decision, hence, he


cannot appeal the said decision. Similarly, there is no specific provision allowing
the NCR Regional Director, in his capacity as the judge and/or arbiter of PNP
disciplinary cases, to file an appeal to the DILG from the decision of the
RAB. Finally, DILG Secretary Lina explained that the filing of an appeal by either
party under Section 45 of Republic Act No. 6975[11] covers only demotion and
dismissal from the service and never exoneration and suspension. Thus, the appeal
of the RAB-NCR decision exonerating Montoya should be dismissed for lack of
jurisdiction and for the reason that the said decision had already become final and
executory. The dispositive portion of DILG Secretary Linas decision reads:
WHEREFORE, the instant appeals are hereby denied for lack of merit.
The assailed decisions of the Regional Appellate Board National Capital
Region, 4th Division, are hereby affirmed in toto.[12]

The NCR Regional Director, represented by Manere, appealed the Order


dated 10 November 2003 of DILG Secretary Lina to the Civil Service Commission
(CSC). The NCR Regional Director asserted its right to appeal citing Civil Service
Commission v. Dacoycoy.[13]
On 23 March 2004, the NCR Regional Director issued Special Order No.
611 reinstating Montoya, et al., without prejudice to the pending appeal of the
NCR Regional Director before the CSC.
Subsequently, the CSC issued on 24 August 2005 Resolution No. 05-1200
which recognized the right of the PNP disciplining authorities to appeal the
decision of the RAB-NCR to the DILG. The CSC set aside the 10 November
2003 Order of DILG Secretary Lina and affirmed the decisions of the NCR
Regional Director dismissing Montoya, et al., from police service. According to
the CSC, Montoya, in particular, was guilty of laches and abandonment of his
position. It also held that the 11 December 2002 Decision of the RAB-NCR on
Montoyas case, affirmed by DILG Secretary Lina, was based on mere affidavits
which were not substantiated.

The CSC denied the Motion for Reconsideration of Montoya, et al., in


Resolution No. 06-1500 dated 23 August 2006 for lack of new evidence or any
valid reason that warrants the setting aside or modification of its Resolution No.
05-1200.
Montoya, et al., sought recourse to the Court of Appeals via a Petition
for Certiorari under Rule 43 with Application for Temporary Restraining Order
(TRO) and Preliminary Injunction, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 96022.
On 9 August 2007, the Court of Appeals promulgated its Decision
dismissing CA-G.R. SP No. 96022, since there was no grave abuse of discretion on
the part of the CSC in issuing Resolutions No. 05-1200 and No. 06-1500. The
dispositive portion of said Decision states:
Wherefore this Court DENIES the instant petition and AFFIRMS
Resolution No. 05-1200 dated August 24, 2005 and Resolution No. 061500 dated August 23, 2006 of the Civil Service Commission.
Accordingly, the Order dated November 10, 2003 of the DILG Secretary
Jose D. Lina, Jr. affirming the nine (9) decisions of the Regional
Appellate Board reinstating [Montoya, et al.] to the police service is SET
ASIDE. The decisions of the NCRPO Regional Director dismissing
petitioners-police officers Enrique C. Paulino, Rebecca P. Fernandez,
Donato L. Geda, Marlo S. Quiambao, Danilo De Leon Nuqui, Ruel C.
Montoya, Cecilia Z. de Leon, Alberto S. Mendoza and Rodolfo C. de
Leon are hereby AFFIRMED.[14]

Aggrieved, Montoya filed his own Motion for Reconsideration in CA-G.R.


SP No. 96022, but it was denied by the Court of Appeals in its Resolution dated 18
October 2007.
Hence, the present Petition[15] in which Montoya raises the following issues:
I.

WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT MANERE FAILED TO


EXHAUST ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES.

II.

WHETHER OR NOT MANERE


PERSONALITY
TO
APPEAL
EXONERATING THE PETITIONER.

HAS THE LEGAL


THE
DECISION

III.

WHETHER OR NOT THE RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF


PETITIONER WAS VIOLATED.

IV.

WHETHER OR NOT PETITIONER DELAYED IN


APPEALING THE DECISION SUMMARILY DISMISSING
HIM.

V.

WHETHER OR NOT PETITIONER DESERVED TO BE


DISMISSED FROM SERVICE.

The Court finds merit in the Petition at bar.


Though procedural rules in administrative proceedings are less stringent and
often applied more liberally, administrative proceedings are not exempt from basic
and fundamental procedural principles, such as the right to due process in
investigations and hearings. The right to substantive and procedural due process is
applicable to administrative proceedings.[16]
Well-settled is the rule that the essence of due process is simply an
opportunity to be heard or, as applied to administrative proceedings, an opportunity
to explain ones side or an opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or
ruling complained of.[17]Unarguably, this rule, as it is stated, strips down
administrative due process to its most fundamental nature and sufficiently justifies
freeing administrative proceedings from the rigidity of procedural requirements. In
particular, however, due process in administrative proceedings has also been
recognized to include the following: (1) the right to actual or constructive notice of
the institution of proceedings which may affect a respondents legal rights; (2) a
real opportunity to be heard personally or with the assistance of counsel, to present
witnesses and evidence in ones favor, and to defend ones rights; (3) a tribunal
vested with competent jurisdiction and so constituted as to afford a person charged
administratively a reasonable guarantee of honesty as well as impartiality; and (4)
a finding by said tribunal which is supported by substantial evidence submitted for

consideration during the hearing or contained in the records or made known to the
parties affected.[18]
Hence, even if administrative tribunals exercising quasi-judicial powers are
not strictly bound by procedural requirements, they are still bound by law and
equity to observe the fundamental requirements of due process. Notice to enable
the other party to be heard and to present evidence is not a mere technicality or a
trivial matter in any administrative or judicial proceedings. [19] In the application of
the principle of due process, what is sought to be safeguarded is not lack of
previous notice but the denial of the opportunity to be heard.[20]
In the instant case, the Summary Dismissal Proceedings against Montoya
were flawed from the very beginning when these were conducted without due
notice to him. The NCR Regional Director, through Manere, never contested the
fact that the Hearing Officer proceeded with his investigation without giving notice
to Montoya. Without notice, Montoya was unable to attend the hearings, present
written or oral arguments, and submit evidence in his favor; he was completely
deprived of the opportunity to be heard on the administrative charges against him
and was irrefragably denied due process.
The cardinal precept is that where there is a violation of basic constitutional
rights, courts are ousted from their jurisdiction. The violation of a partys right to
due process raises a serious jurisdictional issue which cannot be glossed over or
disregarded at will. Where the denial of the fundamental right of due process is
apparent, a decision rendered in disregard of that right is void for lack of
jurisdiction.[21] The rule must be equally true for quasi-judicial administrative
bodies, for the constitutional guarantee that no man shall be deprived of life,
liberty, or property without due process is unqualified by what type of proceedings
(whether judicial or administrative) he stands to lose the same. Consequently, the
Decision dated 23 June 2000 of the NCR Regional Director dismissing Montoya
from service is void for having been rendered in violation of the latters due
process.
The foregoing finding of this Court precludes a ruling that Montoya delayed
appealing the NCR Regional Directors Decision of 23 June 2000, and the said
decision has already become final and executory.

The Court reviews the vital dates. Montoya was able to receive a copy of
the 23 June 2000 Decision of the NCR Regional Director dismissing him from
service on 20 July 2000. He erroneously filed his Petition for Review/Motion for
Reconsideration with the PNP Chief on 1 August 2000. The PNP denied Montoyas
Petition/Motion on 3 July 2002, two years after the filing thereof, citing lack of
jurisdiction, considering that the proper appellate body is the RAB-NCR. Thus,
Montoya was only able to file his appeal of the decision of the NCR Regional
Director before the RAB-NCR on 2 September 2002.
Section 45 of Republic Act No. 6975, otherwise known as the DILG Act of
1990, provides:
SEC. 45. Finality of Disciplinary Action. The disciplinary action imposed upon a
member of the PNP shall be final and executory: Provided, Thata disciplinary
action imposed by the Regional Director or by the PLEB involving demotion
or dismissal from the service may be appealed to the Regional Appellate
Board within ten (10) days from receipt of the copy of the notice of
decision: Provided, further, That the disciplinary action imposed by the Chief of
the PNP involving demotion or dismissal may be appealed to the National
Appellate Board within ten (10) days from receipt thereof: Provided, furthermore,
That, the Regional or National Appellate Board, as the case may be, shall decide
the appeal within sixty (60) days from receipt of the notice of appeal: Provided,
finally, That failure of the Regional Appellate Board to act on the appeal within
said period shall render the decision final and executory without prejudice,
however, to the filing of an appeal by either party with the Secretary.
(Underscoring supplied.)

Obviously, Montoyas appeal on 2 September 2002 with the RAB-NCR, the


appellate body with jurisdiction, was filed way beyond 10 days from his receipt of
a copy of the NCR Regional Directors decision on 20 July 2000.
As a general rule, the perfection of an appeal in the manner and within the
period permitted by law is not only mandatory but also jurisdictional, and the
failure to perfect the appeal renders the judgment of the court final and executory.
[22]
The Court, however, reiterates its previous pronouncements herein that the
Summary Dismissal Proceedings were conducted without notice to Montoya and in
violation of his right to due process. The violation of Montoyas fundamental

constitutional right deprived the NCR Regional Director of jurisdiction over


Montoyas administrative case; and the decision rendered by the NCR Regional
Director therein was void. A void judgment does not become final and executory
and may be challenged at any time.
A decision of the court (or, in this case, a quasi-judicial administrative body)
without jurisdiction is null and void; hence, it can never logically become final and
executory. Such a judgment may be attacked directly or collaterally.[23] Any
judgment or decision rendered notwithstanding the violation of due process may be
regarded as a "lawless thing which can be treated as an outlaw and slain at sight, or
ignored wherever it exhibits its head."[24]
The Court also observes that it took the PNP two years to deny Montoyas
Petition/Motion before it, even though the PNP Chief manifestly did not have
jurisdiction over the same. While Montoya did err in first filing his appeal with the
PNP Chief, the prompt denial thereof would have spurred Montoya to re-file his
appeal sooner before the appropriate forum, the RAB-NCR.
As to the issue of whether the NCR Regional Director may appeal the
Decisions dated 11 December 2002 and 10 November 2003of the RAB-NCR and
DILG Secretary Lina, respectively, the Court answers in the negative.
Prior to Dacoycoy, case law held that dismissal of the charges against or
exoneration of respondents in administrative disciplinary proceedings is final and
not subject to appeal even by the government. On 29 April 1999, the Court
promulgated its Decision inDacoycoy, in which it made the following
pronouncements:
At this point, we have necessarily to resolve the question of the
party adversely affected who may take an appeal from an adverse
decision of the appellate court in an administrative civil service
disciplinary case. There is no question that respondent Dacoycoy may
appeal to the Court of Appeals from the decision of the Civil Service
Commission adverse to him. He was the respondent official meted out
the penalty of dismissal from the service. On appeal to the Court of
Appeals, the court required the petitioner therein, herein respondent
Dacoycoy, to implead the Civil Service Commission as public

respondent as the government agency tasked with the duty to enforce the
constitutional and statutory provisions on the civil service.
Subsequently, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the
Civil Service Commission and held respondent not guilty of
nepotism.Who now may appeal the decision of the Court of Appeals to
the Supreme Court? Certainly not the respondent, who was declared not
guilty of the charge. Nor the complainant George P. Suan, who was
merely a witness for the government. Consequently, the Civil Service
Commission has become the party adversely affected by such ruling,
which seriously prejudices the civil service system. Hence, as an
aggrieved party, it may appeal the decision of the Court of Appeals
to the Supreme Court. By this ruling, we now expressly abandon and
overrule extant jurisprudence that the phrase party adversely affected by
the decision refers to the government employee against whom the
administrative case is filed for the purpose of disciplinary action which
may take the form of suspension, demotion in rank or salary, transfer,
removal or dismissal from office and not included are cases where the
penalty imposed is suspension for not more than thirty (30) days or fine
in an amount not exceeding thirty days salary or when the respondent is
exonerated of the charges, there is no occasion for appeal. In other
words, we overrule prior decisions holding that the Civil Service
Law does not contemplate a review of decisions exonerating officers
or employees from administrative charges enunciated in Paredes v.
Civil
Service
Commission; Mendez
v.
Civil
Service
Commission; Magpale v. Civil Service Commission; Navarro v. Civil
Service Commission and Export Processing Zone Authority and more
recently Del Castillo v. Civil Service Commission.[25] (Emphasis ours.)

Subsequently, the Court qualified its declarations in Dacoycoy. In National


Appellate Board of the National Police Commission v. Mamauag, [26] citing Mathay,
Jr. v. Court of Appeals,[27] this Court elucidated that:
RA 6975 itself does not authorize a private complainant to appeal
a decision of the disciplining authority. Sections 43 and 45 of RA 6975
authorize either party to appeal in the instances that the law allows
appeal. One party is the PNP member-respondent when the
disciplining authority imposes the penalty of demotion or dismissal
from the service. The other party is the government when the
disciplining authority imposes the penalty of demotion but the

government believes that dismissal from the services is the proper


penalty.
However, the government party that can appeal is not the
disciplining authority or tribunal which previously heard the case
and imposed the penalty of demotion or dismissal from the service.
The government party appealing must be one that is prosecuting the
administrative case against the respondent. Otherwise, an anomalous
situation will result where the disciplining authority or tribunal hearing
the case, instead of being impartial and detached, becomes an active
participant in prosecuting the respondent. Thus, in Mathay, Jr. v. Court
of Appeals, decided after Dacoycoy, the Court declared:
To be sure, when the resolutions of the Civil Service
Commission were brought before the Court of Appeals, the
Civil Service Commission was included only as a nominal
party. As a quasi-judicial body, the Civil Service
Commission can be likened to a judge who should detach
himself from cases where his decision is appealed to a
higher court for review.
In instituting G.R. No. 126354, the Civil Service
Commission dangerously departed from its role as
adjudicator and became an advocate. Its mandated function
is to hear and decide administrative cases instituted by or
brought before it directly or on appeal, including contested
appointments and to review decisions and actions of its
offices and agencies, not to litigate.

While Dacoycoy established that the government could appeal the decision
exonerating respondent public officer or employee from administrative charges, it
was Mamauag which specifically required that the government party appealing
must be the one prosecuting the case and not the disciplining authority or tribunal
which heard the administrative case.
In the present case, Montoya appealed to the RAB-NCR the 23 June
2000 Decision of the NCR Regional Director dismissing him from service. The
RAB-NCR, in its 11 December 2002 Decision, reversed the appealed decision of
the NCR Regional Director and ordered Montoyas reinstatement. The NCR

Regional Director then appealed the decision of the RAB-NCR to the Office of the
DILG Secretary. DILG Secretary Lina, in his Decision dated 10 November 2003,
affirmed the decision of the RAB-NCR. Once more, the NCR Regional Director
filed an appeal with the CSC, where he was able to secure a favorable ruling.
It is beyond dispute that the NCR Regional Director was acting as the
investigating and disciplining authority when he rendered his Decision dated 23
June 2000 dismissing Montoya from the service. The pronouncement
in Mamauag, that the disciplining authority or tribunal which heard the case and
imposed the penalty of demotion or dismissal should not be the one appealing the
subsequent exoneration of the public officer or employee, squarely applies to the
NCR Regional Director.
In Pleyto v. Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection
Group,[28] the Court explained:
It is a well-known doctrine that a judge should detach himself
from cases where his decision is appealed to a higher court for
review. Theraison d'etre for such doctrine is the fact that a judge is not
an active combatant in such proceeding and must leave the opposing
parties to contend their individual positions and the appellate court to
decide the issues without his active participation. When a judge actively
participates in the appeal of his judgment, he, in a way, ceases to be
judicial and has become adversarial instead.
The court or the quasi-judicial agency must be detached and
impartial, not only when hearing and resolving the case before it, but
even when its judgment is brought on appeal before a higher court. The
judge of a court or the officer of a quasi-judicial agency must keep in
mind that he is an adjudicator who must settle the controversies between
parties in accordance with the evidence and the applicable laws,
regulations, and/or jurisprudence. His judgment should already clearly
and completely state his findings of fact and law. There must be no more
need for him to justify further his judgment when it is appealed before
appellate courts. When the court judge or the quasi-judicial officer
intervenes as a party in the appealed case, he inevitably forsakes his
detachment and impartiality, and his interest in the case becomes
personal since his objective now is no longer only to settle the
controversy between the original parties (which he had already
accomplished by rendering his judgment), but more significantly, to

refute the appellants assignment of errors, defend his judgment, and


prevent it from being overturned on appeal.

The NCR Regional Director, in actively appealing the reversal of his


Decision, had inevitably forsaken his impartiality and had become adversarial. His
interest was only in seeing to it that his decision would be reinstated.
The party who has the personality and interest to appeal the decisions of the
RAB-NCR and DILG Secretary Lina exonerating Montoya from the administrative
charges against him and reinstating him to the service is the PNP as a bureau. It
was the PNP, in the exercise of its authority to implement internal discipline among
its members, which instigated the administrative investigation of Montoya, so it
may be deemed the prosecuting government party. And it is the PNP which stands
to suffer as a result of the purportedly wrongful exoneration of Montoya, since it
would be compelled to take back to its fold a delinquent member.
Given all of the foregoing, the Court upholds the decision of the RAB-NCR,
affirmed by DILG Secretary Lina, reinstating Montoya to the service. It was only
the RAB-NCR which properly acquired jurisdiction over the appeal filed before it
and was able to render a decision after a consideration of both sides to the
controversy. In Go v. National Police Commission,[29] the Court already issued a
caveat, worth reiterating herein:
We conclude that petitioner was denied the due process of law and
that not even the fact that the charge against him is serious and evidence
of his guilt is in the opinion of his superiors strong can compensate for
the procedural shortcut evident in the record of this case. It is precisely
in cases such as this that the utmost care be exercised lest in the drive to
clean up the ranks of the police those who are innocent are denied justice
or, through blunder, those who are guilty are allowed to escape
punishment.

Before finally writing finis to this case, the Court still finds it necessary to
address the remaining issue on the supposed failure of the NCR Regional Director
to exhaust administrative remedies. Montoya argues that the NCR Regional
Director failed to exhaust administrative remedies when he appealed the 10

November 2003 Decision of DILG Secretary Lina directly to the CSC, without
first filing an appeal with the Office of the President.
Under the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies, before a party
is allowed to seek the intervention of the court, it is a pre-condition that he should
have availed himself of all the means of administrative processes afforded
him. Hence, if a remedy within the administrative machinery can still be resorted
to by giving the administrative officer concerned every opportunity to decide on a
matter that comes within his jurisdiction, then such remedy should be exhausted
first before courts judicial power can be sought. [30] The administrative agency
concerned is in the best position to correct any previous error committed in its
forum.[31]
Montoyas reliance on the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies
is misplaced, for said doctrine does not find application in the instant case. The
doctrine intends to preclude premature resort from a quasi-judicial administrative
body to the court. Such is not the situation in this case. Montoya is questioning the
supposed premature resort of the NCR Regional Director from the decision of
the DILG Secretary to the CSC, instead of to the Office of the President;
obviously, he is challenging the resort from one administrative body to another.
Furthermore, Montoyas assertion that DILG Secretary Linas decision should
have first been appealed to the Office of the President before the CSC is baseless.
PNP personnel fall under the administrative control and supervision of the
DILG,[32] which, in turn, is under the administrative control and supervision of the
CSC.
In Mendoza v. NAPOLCOM,[33] the Court settled that the one and only
Philippine police force, the PNP, shall be civilian in character [34] and, consequently,
falls under the civil service pursuant to Section 2(1), Article IX-B of the
Constitution, which states:
Section 2. (1). The civil service embraces all branches, subdivisions,
instrumentalities, and agencies of the Government, including government-owned
or controlled corporations with original charters.

It is already explicitly provided in Section 45 of the DILG Act of 1990 that


the decision of the Regional Director imposing upon a PNP member the
administrative penalty of demotion or dismissal from the service is appealable to
the RAB. From the RAB Decision, the aggrieved party may then appeal to the
DILG Secretary.
Now the question is, from the DILG Secretary, where can the aggrieved
party appeal?
In the event the DILG Secretary renders an unfavorable decision, his
decision may be appealed to the CSC.[35]
Section 91 of the DILG Act of 1990 provides:
SEC. 91. Application of Civil Service Laws. The Civil Service Law and its
implementing rules and regulations shall apply to all personnel of the Department
[DILG].

Consequently, case law on administrative disciplinary proceedings under the


Civil Service Law also applies to administrative disciplinary proceedings against
PNP members. The Civil Service Law referred to in Section 91 of the DILG Act of
1990 is Subtitle A, Title I, Book V of the Administrative Code of 1987 (E.O. No.
292). Section 47 of Chapter 6 thereof provides, inter alia, that in cases where the
decision rendered by a bureau or office (i.e., RAB of the PNP) is appealable to
the Commission, the same may initially be appealed to the department (i.e.,
DILG) and finally to the Commission (i.e., CSC).[36]
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition for Review
on Certiorari is GRANTED. The Decision dated 9 August 2007 and Resolution
dated 18 October 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 96022
are REVERSED and SET
ASIDE. The
Philippine
National
Police
is ORDERED to reinstate petitioner PO2 Ruel C. Montoya to the police service
without loss of seniority rights and with full payment of his salaries and backwages

covering the period effective from the time of his dismissal from the service up to
his reinstatement.

SO ORDERED.