Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. 185749               December 16, 2009

CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, Petitioner,
vs.
HERMINIGILDO L. ANDAL, Respondent.

D E C I S I O N

CARPIO, J.:

The Case

Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari filed by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) seeking to set aside the Decision dated 22 September 20081 and the Resolution dated 2 December 20082 of the Court of Appeals3 in CA-G.R. SP No. 100452. The Court of Appeals set aside the CSC Decision dated 25 May 2005, Resolution No. 062255 dated 20 December 2006 and Resolution No. 071493 dated 1 August 2007 in Administrative Case No. 00-12-027. The motion for reconsideration filed thereafter was denied.

The Facts

Herminigildo L. Andal (respondent) holds the position of Security Guard II in the Sandiganbayan. On 24 January 2000, he filed an application to take the Career Service Professional Examination-Computer Assisted Test (CSPE-CAT) and was admitted to take the examination. The examination results showed that respondent passed the examination with a rating of 81.03%.

On 25 January 2000, Arlene S. Vito (Vito), claiming to have been authorized by respondent to secure the results of the examination, presented a handwritten authorization allegedly signed by respondent. Upon verification and comparison of the pictures attached to the Picture Seat Plan and the identification card of respondent which Vito presented, there appeared a dissimilarity in the facial features. Bella A. Mitra, then Officer-in-Charge of the Examination, Placement and Services Division (EPSD) of the Civil Service Commission-National Capital Region (CSC-NCR), issued a Memorandum on the alleged "impersonation" of respondent and the matter was referred to the Legal Affairs Division to conduct a fact-finding investigation. On 29 November 2000, the CSC-NCR formally charged respondent with dishonesty.

A formal investigation of the case was scheduled on 4 June 2001, 21 November 2001, 5 February 2002, and 10 July 2002. Notices were sent to respondentís last known address as indicated in his Application Form but respondent failed to appear on the scheduled hearings. Respondent was deemed to have waived his right to appear at the formal investigation and the case proceeded ex parte.

On 5 August 2005, the CSC-NCR rendered judgment finding respondent guilty of dishonesty and imposing upon him the penalty of dismissal from the service.

Aggrieved, respondent appealed to the CSC which issued Resolution No. 062255 dated 20 December 2006, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, the appeal of Herminigildo L. Andal is hereby DISMISSED. Accordingly, the Decision dated May 25, 2005 of the Civil Service Commission National Capital Region (CSC-NCR), Quezon City, finding him guilty of Dishonesty and imposing upon him the penalty of dismissal from the service with accessory penalties of disqualification from re-entering government service, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and bar from taking any civil service examination, pursuant to Section 57 of the Uniformed Rules, is AFFIRMED.4

Respondent moved for a reconsideration of the CSC judgment but the motion was denied in the CSC Resolution No. 071493 dated 1 August 2007.

Respondent elevated the case to the Court of Appeals on a petition for review under Rule 43. On 22 September 2008, the Court of Appeals rendered judgment in favor of respondent, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed Decision dated 25 May 2005, Resolution No. 062255 dated 20 December 2006, and Resolution No. 071493 dated 01 August 2007 in Admin. Case No. 00-12-027 are SET ASIDE and respondent Civil Service Commission is enjoined from implementing the same. Respondent Civil Service Commission is hereby ORDERED to immediately refer said administrative case for Dishonesty against petitioner Herminigildo L. Andal to the Office of the Court Administrator, Supreme Court, for appropriate action.5

The CSC filed a motion for reconsideration which the Court of Appeals denied in its Resolution dated 2 December 2008.

Hence, the present petition.

The Issue

The issue in this case is whether or not the Civil Service Commission has disciplinary jurisdiction to try and decide administrative cases against court personnel.

Ruling of the Court of Appeals

The Court of Appeals ruled that the CSC encroached upon the Supreme Courtís power of administrative supervision over court personnel. In reversing the CSC resolutions, the Court of Appeals cited Section 6, Article VIII6 of the 1987 Constitution which provides that the Supreme Court shall have administrative supervision over all courts and the personnel thereof. The Court of Appeals further stated that what the CSC should have done was to refer the administrative case for dishonesty against respondent to the Office of the Court Administrator for appropriate action instead of resolving the case.

The Courtís Ruling

In taking cognizance of the administrative case for dishonesty against respondent, the CSC invoked Section 28, Rule XIV of the Omnibus Civil Service Rules and Regulations which provides that the CSC "shall have original disciplinary jurisdiction over all its officials and employees and over all cases involving civil service examination anomalies or irregularities." The CSC further contends that administrative cases of dishonesty in connection with duties and responsibilities under Section 47, Chapter 7, Subtitle A, Title I, Book V of the Revised Administrative Code are different from cases of dishonesty in connection with cheating incidents in Civil Service examinations administered by the CSC. In the latter case, the CSC assumes jurisdiction as an integral part of its duty, authority and power to administer the civil service system and protect its integrity, citing the case of Civil Service Commission v. Albao.7

The CSC argues that one of the powers of the CSC is the administration of the civil service examinations. The CSC made a careful study and comparison of the facial features of the person appearing on the photographs attached to the Application Form and the Personal Data Sheet (PDS), and the photograph attached to the Picture Seat Plan. Resemblance of the pictures purporting to be respondentís was clearly wanting. The signatures appearing on the face of the documents also revealed discrepancies in the structure, strokes, form and general appearance.

We agree with the Court of Appeals and accordingly, deny the present petition.

The Court recognizes the CSCís administrative jurisdiction over the civil service. Section 3, Article IX-B of the Constitution declares the CSC as the central personnel agency of the Government, thus:

Section 3. The Civil Service Commission, as the central personnel agency of the Government, shall establish a career service and adopt measures to promote morale, efficiency, integrity, responsiveness, progressiveness, and courtesy in the civil service. It shall strengthen the merit and rewards system, integrate all human resources development programs for all levels and ranks, and institutionalize a management climate conducive to public accountability. It shall submit to the President and the Congress an annual report on its personnel programs.

Section 12, Title 1 (A), Book V of Executive Order No. 292 (EO 292) likewise enumerates the powers and functions of the CSC, one of which is its quasi-judicial function under paragraph 11, which states:

Section 12. Powers and Functions ó The Commission shall have the following powers and functions:

x x x

(11) Hear and decide administrative cases instituted by or brought before it directly or on appeal, including contested appointments, and review decisions and actions of its offices and of the agencies attached to it x x x.

And, Section 47, Title 1 (A), Book V of EO 292 provides for the CSCís disciplinary jurisdiction, as follows:

SEC. 47. Disciplinary Jurisdiction. ó (1) The Commission shall decide upon appeal all administrative disciplinary cases involving the imposition of a penalty of suspension for more than thirty days, or fine in an amount exceeding thirty daysí salary, demotion in rank or salary or transfer, removal or dismissal from office. A complaint may be filed directly with the Commission by a private citizen against a government official or employee in which case it may hear and decide the case or it may deputize any department or agency or official or group of officials to conduct the investigation. The results of the investigation shall be submitted to the Commission with recommendation as to the penalty to be imposed or other action to be taken. x x x (Emphasis supplied)

The CSCís authority and power to hear and decide administrative disciplinary cases are not in dispute. The question is whether the CSCís disciplinary jurisdiction extends to court personnel in view of Section 6, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution.

The Albao case cited by the CSC is not in point as Albao was not a court employee but a contractual employee of the Office of the Vice President. The Albao case merely affirmed the authority of the CSC to take cognizance of any irregularity or anomaly connected with the civil service examinations.

One case in point is Bartolata v. Julaton8 wherein a letter-complaint was sent to the CSC Regional Office in Davao City denouncing the acts of Felicia Julaton (Julaton), Clerk of Court, and Juanita Tapic (Tapic), Court Interpreter II, both of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Davao City, Branch 3. The CSC Regional Office in Davao City discovered that a certain Julaton submitted her application to take the Civil Service Professional Examination in 1989 but the picture on the application form and on the Picture Seat Plan did not resemble the picture appearing on the appointment of Julaton. The signature of Julaton affixed to the examination documents did not match the signature on her PDS. The case was referred to the Office of the Court Administrator which recommended that Julaton and Tapic be held liable as charged. This Court dismissed Julaton from the service, with forfeiture of all retirement benefits while Tapic, who had resigned, was fined P25,000 and his retirement benefits were ordered forfeited.1avvphi1

Likewise, in Civil Service Commission v. Sta. Ana,9 the CSC formally charged Zenaida Sta. Ana (Sta. Ana), Court Stenographer I of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Quezon-Licab, Nueva Ecija with dishonesty, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service for misrepresenting that she took and passed the CSPE-CAT when in truth and in fact, someone else took the examinations for her. The CSC found that the picture and signature in Sta. Anaís PDS were different from those appearing in her application form and in the Picture Seat Plan. Upon the recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator, this Court found Sta. Ana guilty of dishonesty and dismissed her from the service with forfeiture of retirement benefits.

In the Julaton and Sta. Ana cases, the CSC recognized the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Supreme Court over court personnel. This is consonant with Section 6, Article VIII of the 1987 Constitution vesting in the Supreme Court administrative supervision over all courts and the personnel thereof, thus:

Sec. 6. The Supreme Court shall have administrative supervision over all courts and the personnel thereof.

By virtue of this power, it is only the Supreme Court that can oversee the judgesí and court personnelís administrative compliance with all laws, rules and regulations. No other branch of government may intrude into this power, without running afoul of the doctrine of separation of powers. This we have ruled in Maceda v. Vasquez10 and have reiterated in the case of Ampong v. Civil Service Commission.11 In Ampong, we also emphasized that in case of violation of the Civil Service Law by a court personnel, the standard procedure is for the CSC to bring its complaint against a judicial employee before the Office of the Court Administrator of the Supreme Court.

The CSC contends that respondent is now estopped from assailing the jurisdiction of the CSC when he voluntarily submitted himself to the CSC-NCR and was accorded due process, citing the Ampong case.

We disagree.

In Ampong, petitioner in that case admitted her guilt. She voluntarily went to the CSC regional office, admitted to the charges leveled against her and waived her right to the assistance of counsel. She was given ample opportunity to present her side and adduce evidence in her defense before the CSC. She filed her answer to the charges against her and even moved for a reconsideration of the adverse ruling of the CSC. In short, Ampong did not question the authority of the CSC and, in fact, actively participated in the proceedings before it.

In the present case, while respondent may have filed his Answer to the formal charge of dishonesty after having been directed to do so, he denied having taken the civil service examination and did not even appear at the formal investigation conducted by the CSC-NCR.12 He appealed to the CSC after the adverse decision of the CSC-NCR was rendered but raised the issue of lack of jurisdiction over his person. He argued that as an employee in the Judiciary, "the jurisdiction to hear disciplinary action against him vests with the Sandiganbayan or the Supreme Court."13 It cannot therefore be said that he was estopped from assailing the jurisdiction of the CSC.

This notwithstanding, we reiterate that we will not and cannot tolerate dishonesty for the judiciary expects the highest standard of integrity from all its employees. The conduct and behavior of everyone connected with an office charged with the dispensation of justice is circumscribed with a heavy burden or responsibility. The Court will not hesitate to rid its ranks of undesirables.

WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the Decision dated 22 September 2008 and the Resolution dated 2 December 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 100452. Accordingly, we DENY the instant petition. Nonetheless, we ORDER the Civil Service Commission to refer the case of respondent Herminigildo L. Andal to the Office of the Court Administrator, for the filing of the appropriate administrative case against him.

SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

RENATO C. CORONA
Associate Justice
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Associate Justice
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
Associate Justice
ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
Associate Justice
TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO
Associate Justice
ARTURO D. BRION
Associate Justice
DIOSDADO M. PERALTA
Associate Justice
LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice
MARIANO C. DEL CASTILLO
Associate Justice
ROBERTO A. ABAD
Associate Justice

MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.
Associate Justice

C E R T I F I C A T I O N

Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice


Footnotes

1 Rollo, pp. 29-43.

2 Id. at 24-27.

3 Penned by Justice Celia C. Librea-Leagogo, with Justices Mario L. Guariña III and Sesinando E. Villon, concurring.

4 Rollo, pp. 12, 30.

5 Id. at 41.

6 Section 6. The Supreme Court shall have administrative supervision over all courts and the personnel thereof.

7 G.R. No. 155784, 13 October 2005, 472 SCRA 548.

8 A.M. No. P-02-1638, 6 July 2006, 494 SCRA 433.

9 450 Phil. 59 (2003).

10 G.R. No. 102781, 22 April 1993, 221 SCRA 464.

11 G.R. No. 167916, 26 August 2008, 563 SCRA 293.

12 Rollo, p. 31.

13 Id. at 64.


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