Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 160991             February 28, 2005

PACIFICO C. VELASCO, petitioner,
vs.
THE SANDIGANBAYAN (Fourth Division), and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

D E C I S I O N

CALLEJO, SR., J.:

Before the Court is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court for the nullification of the Resolution of the Sandiganbayan in People of the Philippines v. Mayor Pacifico C. Velasco, Criminal Case No. 27821, denying his Supplemental Motion to Quash the Information in the said case, and the Resolution of the Sandiganbayan denying his motion for reconsideration thereof.

The Backdrop

On September 21, 1999, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) issued a Resolution in CSC Case No. 99-2137 ordering the dismissal of Engr. Emmanuel Agonoy, Municipal Engineer of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, for gross neglect of duty. Agonoy did not file a motion for reconsideration thereof; instead, he filed a petition for review in the Court of Appeals (CA), docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 55596.

Despite his knowledge of the said CSC resolution, petitioner Mayor Pacifico C. Velasco of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, allowed Agonoy to report for work as Municipal Engineer. He even issued on October 2, 1999 a Memorandum to the Municipal Treasurer of Bacarra, Lorna S. Dumayag, informing her that she had no reason not to pay the salaries and other benefits of Agonoy in his capacity as Municipal Engineer. She was likewise directed to pay Agonoy’s salary and other benefits until the Supreme Court had finally decided the case, to wit:

M e m o r a n d u m

To : Mrs. Lorna S. Dumayag
Municipal Treasurer
Bacarra, Ilocos Norte

Subject: TO PAY THE SALARIES AND OTHER BENEFITS OF ENGR. EMMANUEL A. AGONOY IN HIS CAPACITY AS MUNICIPAL ENGINEER

Date : October 2, 1999

______________________________________________________________

While it is true that there is a resolution/decision of the Civil Service (CSC Resolution No. 992137), Regional Office No. 1 for the dismissal of Engr. Emmanuel Agonoy dated September 21, 1999, Engr. Agonoy, has still the option to seek or file an appeal to the Court of Appeals based on existing Rules of Court and the Civil Service Commission and thereby you have no reason not to pay his salaries and benefits in his capacity as the Municipal Engineer.

In this regard, you are hereby directed to pay all his salaries and benefits not until there will be a final decision given by the Supreme Court regarding his case.

For strict compliance.

(Sgd.) ILLEGIBLE
PACIFICO C. VELASCO
Mayor1

In the meantime, Agonoy continued reporting for duty as municipal engineer from November 11, 1999. On August 18, 2000, the CA denied Agonoy’s petition for review. He filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision, which the CA also denied on September 20, 2000.

Undaunted, Agonoy filed a petition for review of the CA decision with this Court. The case was docketed as G.R. No. 145016.

In the meantime, on October 17, 2000, Mayor Velasco issued a Memorandum to the Municipal Treasurer directing her to immediately release Agonoy’s salary, Representation and Transportation Allowance (RATA) and other benefits. Mayor Velasco again told the treasurer that she had no right to withhold Agonoy’s benefits, viz.:

Memo No. 2000 – 195

To Mrs. Lorna S. Dumayag
Municipal Treasurer
Bacarra, Ilocos Norte

Subject TO RELEASE IMMEDIATELY THE SALARY, RATA AND OTHER BENEFITS DUE TO ENGR. EMMANUEL AGONOY

Date October 17, 2000

____________________________________________________________

In view of the motion for extension of time to file petition for review on certiorari filed by Engr. Emmanuel Agonoy and his counsel to the Supreme Court dated October 5, 2000, xerox copy is hereto attached,. [y]ou are hereby directed to release immediately without delay the salary, RATA and other benefits due to Engr. Emmanuel Agonoy. You have no right to withhold such benefits for Engr. Agonoy not until the final court of the last recourse which is the Supreme Court will give its final judgment.

For strict compliance.

(Sgd.) ILLEGIBLE
PACIFICO C. VELASCO
Mayor

Cc: Engr. Emmanuel Agonoy
Mun. Engineer

Mrs. Filimona S. Acidera
MBO/HRMO Designate2

On December 4, 2000, this Court, in G.R. No. 145016, resolved to deny3 the petition for review filed by Agonoy. On February 28, 2001, Agonoy resigned as Municipal Engineer. The Resolution of the Supreme Court dismissing the petition for review of Agonoy became final and executory on May 10, 2001.

On March 18, 2002, Philip Corpus Velasco, the Vice Mayor of Bacarra, filed a Complaint4 before the Office of the Ombudsman against petitioner Mayor Velasco, Agonoy and Municipal Treasurer Dumayag for violation of Republic Act No. 3019. In his Resolution dated April 25, 2003, the Ombudsman found probable cause against petitioner Mayor Velasco for violation of Section 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019, and filed an Information with the Sandiganbayan charging him of that crime. The case against Agonoy was dismissed because he had earlier resigned; on the other hand, the Ombudsman absolved the Municipal Treasurer, on the finding that she had merely obeyed the orders of the Mayor. The inculpatory portion of the Information reads:

That on or about September 21, 1999, in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused PACIFICO VELASCO, a public officer, being then the Mayor of the Municipality of Bacarra, committing the crime charged in relation to and taking advantage of his official functions, acting with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and criminally give unwarranted benefits to EMMANUEL AGONOY by allowing the latter to continue his employment as the Municipal Engineer of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte and receive his salaries, RATA and other benefits from November 1, 1999 up to February 28, 2001, in the total amount of THREE HUNDRED SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-EIGHT (P375,168.00) PESOS Philippine Currency, despite the fact that he knows fully well that AGONOY has been dismissed from the government service in a Resolution No. 992137 rendered by the Civil Service Commission on September 21, 1999, to the damage and prejudice of the government.

CONTRARY TO LAW.5

The petitioner filed a Supplemental Motion to Quash the Information on the ground that it did not charge the offense of violation of Section 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019. He alleged therein that while he was aware of the CSC resolution dismissing Agonoy from the service, he was not bound by it because he was not a party to CSC Case No. 99-2137. He also alleged therein that he did not receive any directive from the CSC ordering him to implement its resolution. Furthermore, even if the CSC did issue the said directive, he could not prevent Agonoy from reporting for work. He further averred that he permitted Agonoy to report for work, and receive salaries and other benefits from the municipality because the resolution of the CSC dated September 21, 1999 was not immediately executory. It cannot, therefore, be claimed that he gave unwarranted benefits to Agonoy through manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence.

The petitioner Mayor averred that until the resolution of the Supreme Court denying Agonoy’s petition for review had become final and executory, he could not be compelled to implement the September 21, 1999 Resolution of the CSC.1awphi1.nét

On October 8, 2003, the Sandiganbayan issued a Resolution denying the motion of the petitioner.6 The Court ruled that the Information alleged all the elements of violation of Section 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019. The petitioner filed a motion for the reconsideration,7 which the Sandiganbayan likewise denied in a Resolution dated November 24, 2003.

The petitioner then filed the instant petition for certiorari with this Court, contending that -

THE RESPONDENT COURT GRAVELY ABUSED ITS DISCRETION AND ACTED WITHOUT AND/OR IN EXCESS OF JURISDICTION IN NOT QUASHING THE INFORMATION IN THE SUBJECT CASE ON THE GROUND THAT THE ALLEGATIONS THEREIN DO NOT CONSTITUTE THE OFFENSE AS CHARGED.8

The petitioner insists that while the Information alleges that he was aware of the September 21, 1999 Resolution of the CSC dismissing Agonoy from the service, there is no allegation therein that he was served with a copy of the said resolution and was directed to implement the same. He avers that such allegations are essential elements of the offense of violation of Section 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019. He reiterates that he was not bound to implement the resolution because he was not a party to the case in the CSC. Hence, he maintains, it cannot be said that in allowing Agonoy to continue reporting for work and ordering the municipal treasurer to give the latter his salary, RATA and other benefits, he (the petitioner) gave unwarranted benefits or undue advantage or preference to Agonoy through manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence. The petitioner further avers that he could even be charged administratively, civilly, or criminally if he relieved Agonoy from his official duties, and refused to give the latter his salary, RATA and other benefits.

In its comment on the petition, the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) avers that although the petitioner was not a party in CSC Case No. 99-2137, he was bound to enforce the CSC Resolution of September 21, 1999 as Municipal Mayor of Bacarra, and may even be cited for contempt for his refusal to do so. The OSP maintains that the resolution of the CSC was immediately executory, considering that Agonoy did not file a reconsideration thereof. Moreover, Agonoy’s act of filing a petition for review with the CA and the Supreme Court did not stop the execution of said resolution. It posits that the petitioner could not be held civilly, criminally or administratively liable for not complying with the CSC resolution, and argues that by issuing his memoranda to the Municipal Treasurer, the petitioner acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence, and gave unwarranted benefits to Agonoy.

The petition has no merit and is, therefore, denied.

Section 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019 states that -

SEC. 3. Corrupt practices of public officers.

(e) Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official, administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. This provision shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions.

In Librada M. Cabrera, et al. v. Sandiganbayan,9 this Court held that the essential elements of violation of Section 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019 are as follows:

1. The accused must be a public officer discharging administrative, judicial or official functions;

2. He must have acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or inexcusable negligence; and

3. That his action caused any undue injury to any party, including the government, or giving any private party unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his functions.10

The Court explained in the same case that there are two (2) ways by which a public official violates Section 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019 in the performance of his functions, namely: (a) by causing undue injury to any party, including the Government; or (b) by giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference. The accused may be charged under either mode or under both. Moreover, in Quibal v. Sandiganbayan,11 the Court held that the use of the disjunctive term "or" connotes that either act qualifies as a violation of Sec. 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019.

In this case, the petitioner was charged of violating Section 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019 under two alternative modes of committing the crime.

In its assailed Resolution dated October 8, 2003 the Sandiganbayan declared that the Information filed against the petitioner contained all the essential elements of the crime charged:

l^vvphi1.net
THE ELEMENTS THE ALLEGATIONS

(1) that the accused is a public officer discharging administrative, judicial or official functions;

"... accused PACIFICO VELASCO, a public officer, being then the Mayor of the Municipality of Bacarra, committing the crime charged in relation to and taking advantage of his official functions, …"

(2) that his action caused any undue injury to any party, including the government;

"... give unwarranted benefits to EMMANUEL AGONOY by allowing the latter to continue his employment as the Municipal Engineer of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte and receive his salaries, RATA and other benefits from November 1, 1999 up to February 28, 2001, in the total amount of THREE HUNDRED SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-EIGHT (P375,168.00) PESOS Philippine Currency, despite the fact that he knows fully well that AGONOY has been dismissed from the government service in a Resolution No. 992137 rendered by the Civil Service Commission on September 21, 1999, to the damage and prejudice of the government."

(3) that he must have acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or inexcusable negligence.

"… acting with manifest partiality, evident bad faith, or gross inexcusable negligence, …"12

We agree with the Sandiganbayan. The petitioner, at the time of the alleged commission of the crime, was the Municipal Mayor of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte. As such, he was mandated to ensure that all officers, including himself, abide by Article I of Section 444(b)(x)13 of Rep. Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code, which directs executive officials and employees of the municipality to faithfully discharge their duties and functions as provided by law. Considering such duty, the petitioner had to enforce decisions or final resolutions, orders or rulings of the CSC. Furthermore, under Section 83 of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, as implemented by CSC Resolution No. 99-1936, he may be cited in contempt of the Commission in case of his refusal or failure to do so, and may even be administratively charged therefor:

Section 83. Non-execution of Decision. – Any officer or employee who willfully refuses or fails to implement the final resolution, decision, order or ruling of the Commission to the prejudice of the public service and the affected party, may be cited in contempt of the Commission and administratively charged with conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service or neglect of duty.

It is, thus, not necessary that the officer or employee who willfully refuses or fails to implement such final resolution be a party to the case which was resolved by the CSC or by its Regional Office.

However, in order for such resolution to be implemented, it is required that a copy of the CSC Resolution be furnished to the implementing agency, or that such agency had knowledge thereof. It is also required that the subject CSC Resolution is final and executory. Corollarily, Section 80 of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service provides that the decision of the CSC or its Regional Office shall be immediately executory after fifteen (15) days from receipt thereof unless a motion for reconsideration is seasonably filed, thus:

Section 80. Execution of Decision. – The decisions of the Commission Proper or its Regional Offices shall be immediately executory after fifteen (15) days from receipt thereof, unless a motion for reconsideration is seasonably filed, in which case the execution of the decision shall be held in abeyance.14

In this case, the petitioner knew of the questioned CSC Resolution even before he was officially furnished with a copy thereof. In fact, the petitioner unequivocably admitted that he knew of the September 21, 1999 Resolution of the CSC dismissing Agonoy as Municipal Engineer of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, in his Memoranda to the Municipal Treasurer.

The petitioner should have known that in case of Agonoy’s failure to file any motion for the reconsideration of the CSC Resolution, such resolution would become executory, and he would thus be mandated to enforce the same. However, if Agonoy had filed a petition for review in the CA and the appellate court had issued a stay of execution as provided for in Section 8215 of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, in tandem with Section 12, Rule 4316 of the Rules of Court, as amended, the petitioner could not be faulted for allowing Agonoy to continue working and receiving compensation therefor.

In this case, Agonoy did not file any motion for reconsideration of the CSC Resolution; while he filed a petition for review of the CSC Resolution in the CA and in this Court, no stay order was issued by either courts in his favor.

Thus, the petitioner defied the CSC Resolution dated September 21, 1999 in CSC Case No. 99-2137; he allowed Agonoy to report for work and ordered the Municipal Treasurer to pay to Agonoy his salary, RATA and other benefits, first, in his Memorandum of October 2, 1999, issued shortly after the CSC Resolution; and second, in the Memorandum of October 17, 2000, issued shortly after the CA denied the petition for review of Agonoy on August 18, 2000. The petitioner even warned the Municipal Treasurer that she had no right to withhold the said salary and other benefits from Agonoy.

While there is no showing in the records that the petitioner Mayor was informed that Agonoy did not file any motion for the reconsideration of the CSC Resolution, prudence dictated that he should have ascertained whether Agonoy had done so. The petitioner should have at least attempted to verify whether Agonoy was able to secure a stay order from the CA before issuing such memoranda. Indeed, the petitioner’s failure to do so constitutes gross negligence on his part. As a consequence of the Memoranda issued by the petitioner, the municipal treasurer remitted Agonoy’s salary, RATA and other benefits in the total amount of P375,168.00, thus giving unwarranted benefits to the latter and causing undue injury to the government.

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit.l^vvphi1.net The assailed Resolutions of the Sandiganbayan are AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.


Footnotes

1 Rollo, p. 143.

2 Id. at 144.

3 Records, p. 39.

4 Id. at 9-13.

5 Rollo, pp. 46-47.

6 Id. at 31-35..

7 Id. at 71-76.

8 Id. at 11.

9 G.R. Nos. 162314-17, October 25, 2004.

10 Ibid.

11 244 SCRA 224 (1995), also cited in Librada M. Cabrera, et al. v. Sandiganbayan, id.

12 Rollo, p. 34.

13 SECTION 444. The Chief Executive: Powers, Duties, Functions and Compensation. (a) The municipal mayor, as the chief executive of the municipal government, shall exercise such duties and functions as provided by this Code and other laws.

(b) For efficient, effective and economical governance the purpose of which is the general welfare of the municipality and its inhabitants pursuant to Section 16 of this Code, the municipal mayor shall:

(1) Exercise general supervision and control over all programs, projects, services, and activities of the municipal government, and in this connection, shall:

"(x) Ensure that all executive officials and employees of the municipality faithfully discharge their duties and functions as provided by law and this Code, and cause to be instituted administrative or judicial proceedings against any official or employee of the municipality who may have committed an offense in the performance of his official duties;"

14 Emphasis supplied.

15 Section 82. Effect of Pendency of Petition for Review/Certiorari with the Court. – The filing of a petition for review with the Court of Appeals or certiorari with the Supreme Court shall not stop the execution of a final decision of the Commission unless the Court issues a restraining order or an injunction.

16 Section 12. Effect of appeal. The appeal shall not stay the award, judgment, final order or resolution sought to be reviewed unless the Court of Appeals shall direct otherwise upon such terms as it may deem just.


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