CSC vs. Court of Appeals, et al (G.R. No. 176162) and Atty. Cueva vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 178845) En Banc, October 9, 2012
> CSC has jurisdiction over cases filed directly with it, regardless of who initiated the complaint. Correspondingly, CSC has jurisdiction over administrative cases filed directly with it against officials of a chartered state university or college. Republic Act No. 8292 does not remove employees and officials of SUCs from CSC’s ambit. Instead, this original jurisdiction is shared with the Board of Regents.
> Section 47, Chapter 7, Subtitle A, Title I, Book V of EO 292 does not mean that only a private citizen can file a complaint directly with the CSC. It also does not mean that complaints filed by fellow government employees can only be heard by CSC on appeal. Otherwise, the provision would divest CSC of its original jurisdiction and would be tantamount to disenfranchising government employees by removing from them an alternative course of action against erring public officials.
> Abandonment of office has two elements – a) intention to abandon; b) an overt or external act by which the intention is carried into effect.
> Castillo’s seeming lackadaisical attitude towards protecting her rights cannot be construed as an abandonment especially because of Gov. Salapuddin tenaciously refused to accept her. The risk of incurring the ire of a powerful politician effectively tied her hands. It was quite understandable that she could not don her gloves and fight even if she wanted to.
National Power Corporation vs. CSC and Rodrigo A. Tanfelix, G.R. No. 152093, January 24, 2012 (En Banc)
> Corruption as an element of grave misconduct consists in the official’s unlawful and wrongful use of his station or character [reputation] to procure some benefit for himself or for another person, contrary to duty and the rights of others. Rigging (or fixing) by a public official at a bidding in the organization where he belongs is a specie of corruption.
> As a public officer, Tanfelix had the duty to protect the process of public bidding in the NPC, his organization. The requirement of public bidding is not an idle ceremony. It is the accepted method for arriving at a fair and reasonable price. It ensures that overpricing, favoritism, and other anomalous practices are eliminated or minimized. A ruling that would absolve Tanfelix of any liability for rigging the bids in the government office where he works on the pretext that he was not a member of the bids and awards committee would encourage public officers who are not members of bids committees to make an industry of rigging bids, using their offices and official reputations.
Republic of the Philippines, represented by the CSC vs. Minerva Pacheo, G.R. No. 178021, January 25, 2012 (En Banc)
> While a temporary transfer or assignment of personnel is permissible even without the employee’s prior consent, it cannot be done when the transfer is a preliminary step toward his removal, or a scheme to lure him away from his permanent position, or when it is designed to indirectly terminate his service, or force his resignation. Such a transfer would in effect circumvent the provision which safeguards the tenure of office of those who are in the Civil Service.
> The principal distinctions between a detail and reassignment lie in the place where the employee is to be moved and in its effectivity pending appeal with the CSC. Based on the definition, a detail requires a movement from one agency to another while a reassignment requires a movement within the same agency. Moreover, pending appeal with the CSC, an order to detail is immediately executory, whereas a reassignment order does not become immediately effective.
> Reassignments involving a reduction in rank, status or salary violate an employee’s security of tenure, which is assured by the Constitution, the Administrative Code of 1987, and the Omnibus Civil Service Rules and Regulations. Security of tenure covers not only employees removed without cause, but also cases of unconsented transfers and reassignments, which are tantamount to illegal/constructive removal.
> It is a settled jurisprudence that an illegally dismissed civil service employee is entitled to back salaries but limited only to a maximum period of five (5) years, and not full back salaries from his illegal dismissal up to his reinstatement.
> Settled is the rule that the right to appeal is not a natural right or a part of due process, but is merely a statutory privilege that may be exercised only in the manner prescribed by law. The right is unavoidably forfeited by the litigant who does not comply with the manner thus prescribed
> The counsel’s actions and mistakes on procedural matters bind the client. Where the party has the opportunity to appeal or seek reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of, defects in procedural due process may be cured
> Failure to perfect an appeal within the prescribed period is not a mere technicality but jurisdictional, and failure to perfect an appeal renders the judgment final and executory.
CSC vs. Aurora M. Clave (G.R. No. 194645), GSIS vs. Aurora M. Clave (G.R. No. 194665), March 6, 2012 (En Banc)
> Simple neglect of duty is the failure to give attention to a task, or the disregard of a duty due to carelessness or indifference.
> In these cases, the Court of Appeals found that while Clave was not specifically authorized to delete headers, she had authority to cancel granted loans through the transaction code “LSLC.” Further, Clave was one of the users of the computer terminal SI42 that was used to cancel the header ofTornea’s The Court of Appeals found that the computer terminal SI42 that was used to cancel the header of Tornea’s loan was also used by two persons, including Estoque who was previously found guilty of dishonesty and grave misconduct for cancelling the loans and headers of some GSIS members. Thus, it might be possible that Estoque used Clave’s operator ID and password in cancelling the header of Tornea’s loan. However, granting that this might be true, Clave still failed to explain why other persons knew her operator ID and password that were used in the cancellation of the header. The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that Clave was neglectful in safeguarding information that should have been known only to herself.
> Clave’s length of service in the government could not mitigate her liability considering that the present offense is not her first offense but her third offense. Applying Section 52(B) of the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, the penalty of dismissal imposed by the GSIS and affirmed by the CSC should be imposed on Clave.
> In appreciating the presence of mitigating, aggravating or alternative circumstances to a given case, two constitutional principles come into play which the Court is tasked to balance. The first is public accountability which requires the Court to consider the improvement of public service, and the preservation of the public’s faith and confidence in the government by ensuring that only individuals who possess good moral character, integrity and competence are employed in the government service. The second relates to social justice which gives the Court the discretionary leeway to lessen the harsh effects of the wrongdoing committed by an offender for equitable and humanitarian considerations.
> We have repeatedly held that length of service can either be a mitigating or an aggravating circumstance depending on the facts of each case. While in most cases, length of service is considered in favor of the respondent, it is not considered where the offense committed is found to be serious or grave; or when the length of service helped the offender commit the infraction. The factors against mitigation are present in this case.
> The commission of an administrative offense classified as a serious offense (like dishonesty) is punishable by dismissal from the service even for the first time.
> The principle of social justice cannot be properly applied in the respondent’s case to shield him from the full consequences of his dishonesty. The Court, in Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. v. NLRC, clearly recognized the limitations in invoking social justice:
The policy of social justice is not intended to countenance wrongdoing simply because it is committed by the underprivileged. At best it may mitigate the penalty but it certainly will not condone the offense. Compassion for the poor is an imperative of every humane society but only when the recipient is not a rascal claiming an undeserved privilege. Social justice cannot be permitted to be [the] refuge of scoundrels any more than can equity be an impediment to the punishment of the guilty. Those who invoke social justice may do so only if their hands are clean and their motives blameless and not simply because they happen to be poor. This great policy of our Constitution is not meant for the protection of those who have proved they are not worthy of it, like the workers who have tainted the cause of labor with the blemishes of their own character.