Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

A.M. No. P-95-1167               February 9, 2010

CARMELITA LLEDO, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. CESAR V. LLEDO, Branch Clerk of Court, Regional Trial Court, Branch 94, Quezon City, Respondent.

R E S O L U T I O N

NACHURA, J.:

May a government employee, dismissed from the service for cause, be allowed to recover the personal contributions he paid to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS)?

This is the question that confronts this Court in the instant case, the factual antecedents of which are as follows:

On December 21, 1998, this Court promulgated a Decision1 in the above-captioned case, dismissing from the service Atty. Cesar V. Lledo, former branch clerk of court of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 94. Cesarís wife, Carmelita, had filed an administrative case against him, charging the latter with immorality, abandonment, and conduct unbecoming a public official.

During the investigation, it was established that Cesar had left his family to live with another woman with whom he also begot children. He failed to provide support for his family. The investigating judge recommended Cesarís dismissal from the service. The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) adopted the recommendation.

The Court, in its December 21, 1998 Decision, disposed of the case in this wise:

WHEREFORE, Cesar V. Lledo, branch clerk of court of RTC, Branch 94, Quezon City, is hereby DISMISSED from the service, with forfeiture of all retirement benefits and leave credits and with prejudice to reemployment in any branch or instrumentality of the government, including any government-owned or controlled corporation. This case is REFERRED to the IBP Board of Governors pursuant to Section 1 of Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court.

SO ORDERED.2

In a letter3 dated January 15, 1999, Carmelita and her children wrote to then Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., begging for humane consideration and asking that part of the money due Cesar be applied to the payment of the arrearages of their amortized house and lot then facing foreclosure by the GSIS. They averred that Cesarís abandonment had been painful enough; and to lose their home of 26 years would be even more painful and traumatic for the children.

The Court directed the OCA to comment. The OCA recommended that the Courtís December 21, 1998 Decision be reconsidered insofar as the forfeiture of Cesarís leave credits was concerned, underscoring, however, that said benefits would only be released to Carmelita and her children.4

In a Resolution dated August 3, 1999,5 the Court resolved to deny the motion for reconsideration for lack of merit.

On April 3, 2006, Cesar L. Lledo, Jr., Cesarís son, wrote a letter6 to then Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban. He related that his father had been bedridden after suffering a severe stroke and acute renal failure. He had been abandoned by his mistress and had been under Cesar Jr.ís care since 2001. The latter appealed to the Court to reconsider its December 21, 1998 Decision, specifically the forfeiture of leave credits, which money would be used to pay for his fatherís medical expenses. Cesar Jr. asked the Court for retroactive application of the Courtís ruling subsequent to his fatherís dismissal, wherein the Court ruled that despite being dismissed from the service, government employees are entitled to the monetary equivalent of their leave credits since these were earned prior to dismissal.

Treating the letter as a motion for reconsideration, the Court, on May 3, 2006, granted the same, specifically on the forfeiture of accrued leave credits.7

Cesar Jr. wrote the Court again on November 27, 2006, expressing his gratitude for the Courtís consideration of his request for his fatherís leave credits. He again asked for judicial clemency in connection with his fatherís claim for refund of the latterís personal contributions to GSIS.8

The Court directed the GSIS to comment, within 10 days from notice, on Cesar Jr.ís letter.9 For failing to file the required Comment, the Court, in a Resolution dated December 11, 2007,10 required the GSIS to show cause why it should not be held in contempt for failure to comply with the Resolution directing it to file its Comment. The Court reiterated its December 11, 2007 Resolution on June 17, 2008, and directed compliance.

In a letter11 dated April 16, 2009, Jason C. Teng, Regional Manager of the GSIS Quezon City Regional Office, explained that a request for a refund of retirement premiums is disallowed. He explained:

The rate of contribution for both government and personal shares of retirement premiums was actuarially computed to allow the GSIS to generate enough investment returns to be able to pay off future claims. During actuarial computation, the expected demographics considered the percentages of different types of future claims (and non-claims). As such, if those that were expected to have no future claim (e.g. those with forfeited retirement benefits) were suddenly allowed to receive claims for payment of benefits, this would have a negative impact on the financial viability of the GSIS.1avvphi1

Even as the Court noted the letter in its June 30, 2009 Resolution,12 it further required the Board of Directors of the GSIS (GSIS Board) to file a separate Comment within 10 days from notice.

In its Comment,13 the GSIS Board said that Cesar is not entitled to the refund of his personal contributions of the retirement premiums because "it is the policy of the GSIS that an employee/member who had been dismissed from the service with forfeiture of retirement benefits cannot recover the retirement premiums he has paid unless the dismissal provides otherwise." The GSIS Board pointed out that the Courtís Decision did not provide that Cesar is entitled to a refund of his retirement premiums.

There is no gainsaying that dismissal from the service carries with it the forfeiture of retirement benefits. Under the Uniform Rules in Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, it is provided that:14

Section 58. Administrative Disabilities Inherent in Certain Penalties.

a. The penalty of dismissal shall carry with it that of cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, and the perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service, unless otherwise provided in the decision.

However, in the instant case, Cesar Jr. seeks only the return of his fatherís personal contributions to the GSIS. He is not claiming any of the benefits that Cesar would have been entitled to had he not been dismissed from the service, such as retirement benefits.

To determine the propriety of Cesar Jr.ís request, a reexamination of the laws governing the GSIS is in order.

The GSIS was created in 1936 by Commonwealth Act No. 186. It was intended to "promote the efficiency and welfare of the employees of the Government of the Philippines" and to replace the pension systems in existence at that time.15

Section 9 of Commonwealth Act No. 186 states:

Section 9. Effect of dismissal or separation from service. ó Upon dismissal for cause of a member of the System, the benefits under his membership policy shall be automatically forfeited to the System, except one-half of the cash or surrender value, which amount shall be paid to such member, or in case of death, to his beneficiary. In other cases of separation before maturity of a policy, the Government contributions shall cease, and the insured member shall have the following options: (a) to collect the cash surrender value of the policy; or (b) to continue the policy by paying the full premiums thereof; or (c) to obtain a paid up or extended term insurance in such amount or period, respectively, as the paid premiums may warrant, in accordance with the conditions contained in said policy; o[r] (d) to avail himself of such other options as may be provided in the policy.16

In 1951, Commonwealth Act No. 186 was amended by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 660. R.A. No. 660 amended Sections 2(a), (d), and (f); 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 10; 11; 12; 13; 14; 15; and 16 of Commonwealth Act No. 186. R.A. No. 660 likewise added new provisions to the earlier law, one of which reads:

Section 8. The following new sections are hereby inserted in Commonwealth Act Numbered One hundred and eighty-six:

II. ó Retirement Insurance Benefit

"Section 11. (a) Amount of annuity. ó Upon retirement a member shall be automatically entitled to a life annuity payable monthly for at least five years and thereafter as long as he live. (sic) The amount of the monthly annuity at the age of fifty-seven years shall be twenty pesos, plus, for each year of service rendered after the approval of this Act, one and six-tenths per centum of the average monthly salary received by him during the last five years of service, plus, for each year of service rendered prior to the approval of this Act, if said service was at least seven years, one and two-tenths per centum of said average monthly salary: Provided, That this amount shall be adjusted actuarially if retirement be at an age other than fifty-seven years: Provided, further, That the maximum amount of monthly annuity at age fifty-seven shall not in any case exceed two-thirds of said average monthly salary or five hundred pesos, whichever is the smaller amount: And provided, finally, That retirement benefit shall be paid not earlier than one year after the approval of this Act. In lieu of this annuity, he may prior to his retirement elect one of the following equivalent benefits:

"(1) Monthly annuity during his lifetime;

"(2) Monthly annuity during the joint-lives of the employee and his wife or other designated beneficiary, which annuity, however, shall be reduced upon the death of either to one-half and be paid to the survivor;

"(3) For those who are at least sixty-five years of age, lump sum payment of present value of annuity for first five years and future annuity to be paid monthly; or

"(4) Such other benefit as may be approved by the System.

"(b) Survivors benefit. ó Upon death before he becomes eligible for retirement, his beneficiaries as recorded in the application of retirement annuity filed with the System shall be paid his own premiums with interest of three per centum per annum, compounded monthly. If on his death he is eligible for retirement, then the automatic retirement annuity or the annuity chosen by him previously shall be paid accordingly.

"(c) Disability benefit. ó If he becomes permanently and totally disabled and his services are no longer desirable, he shall be discharged and paid his own contributions with interest of three per centum per annum, compounded monthly, if he has served less than five years; if he has served at least five years but less than fifteen years, he shall be paid also the corresponding employer's premiums, without interest, described in subsection (a) of section five hereof; and if he has served at least fifteen years he shall be retired and be entitled to the benefit provided under subsection (a) of this section.

"(d) Upon dismissal for cause or on voluntary separation, he shall be entitled only to his own premiums and voluntary deposits, if any, plus interest of three per centum per annum, compounded monthly."17

Thus, Section 11(d) of R.A. No. 660 should be deemed to have amended Commonwealth Act No. 186.

In 1977, then President Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1146, an act "Amending, Expanding, Increasing and Integrating the Social Security and Insurance Benefits of Government Employees and Facilitating the Payment thereof under Commonwealth Act No. 186, as amended, and for other purposes."

Section 4 of P.D. No. 1146 reads:

Section 4. Effect of Separation from the Service. A member shall continue to be a member, notwithstanding his separation from the service and, unless the terms of his separation provide otherwise, he shall be entitled to whatever benefits which shall have accrued or been earned at the time of his separation in the event of any contingency compensable under this Act.

There is no provision in P.D. No. 1146 dealing specifically with GSIS members dismissed from the service for cause, or their entitlement to the premiums they have paid.

Subsequently, R.A. No. 8291 was enacted in 1997, and it provides:

Section 1. Presidential Decree No. 1146, as amended, otherwise known as the "Revised Government Service Insurance Act of 1977", is hereby amended to read as follows:

x x x x

SEC. 4. Effect of Separation from the Service. Ė A member separated from the service shall continue to be a member, and shall be entitled to whatever benefits he has qualified to in the event of any contingency compensable under this Act.

It is noteworthy that none of the subsequent laws expressly repealed Section 9 of Commonwealth Act No. 186, as amended. In fact, none of the subsequent laws expressly repealed the earlier laws. Be that as it may, we must still resolve the issue of whether the same has been impliedly repealed.

We answer in the negative.

As a general rule, repeals by implication are not favored. When statutes are in pari materia, they should be construed together. A law cannot be deemed repealed unless it is clearly manifested that the legislature so intended it.18

The repealing clause of P.D. No. 1146 reads:

Section 48. Repealing Clause. All laws or parts of law specifically inconsistent herewith shall be considered amended or repealed accordingly.

On the other hand R.A. No. 8291ís repealing clause states:

SEC. 3. Repealing Clause. Ė All laws and any other law or parts of law specifically inconsistent herewith are hereby repealed or modified accordingly: Provided, That the rights under existing laws, rules and regulations vested upon or acquired by an employee who is already in the service as of the effectivity of this Act shall remain in force and effect: Provided, further, That subsequent to the effectivity of this Act, a new employee or an employee who has previously retired or separated and is reemployed in the service shall be covered by the provisions of this Act.

This Court has previously determined the nature of similarly-worded repealing clauses. Thus:

The holding of this Court in Mecano vs. COA is instructive: "The question that should be asked is: What is the nature of this repealing clause? It is certainly not an express repealing clause because it fails to identify or designate the act or acts that are intended to be repealed. Rather, it is an example of a general repealing provision, as stated in Opinion No. 73, s. 1991. It is a clause which predicates the intended repeal under the condition that a substantial conflict must be found in existing and prior acts. The failure to add a specific repealing clause indicates that the intent was not to repeal any existing law, unless an irreconcilable inconsistency and repugnancy exist in the terms of the new and old laws. This latter situation falls under the category of an implied repeal."19

There are two accepted instances of implied repeal. The first takes place when the provisions in the two acts on the same subject matter are irreconcilably contradictory, in which case, the later act, to the extent of the conflict, constitutes an implied repeal of the earlier one. The second occurs when the later act covers the whole subject of the earlier one and is clearly intended as a substitute; thus, it will operate to repeal the earlier law.20

Addressing the second instance, we pose the question: were the later enactments intended to substitute the earlier ones? We hold that there was no such substitution.

P.D. No. 1146 was not intended to replace Commonwealth Act No. 186, as amended by R.A. No. 660, but "to expand and improve the social security and insurance programs administered by the Government Service Insurance System."21 Thus, as the above-quoted repealing clause indicates, only the laws or parts of law specifically inconsistent with P.D. No. 1146 were considered amended or repealed.22

In fact, Section 34 of P.D. No. 1146 mandates that the GSIS, as created and established under Commonwealth Act No. 186, shall implement the provisions of that law. Moreover, Section 13 states:

Section 13. Retirement Option. Employees who are in the government service upon the effectivity of this Act shall, at the time of their retirement, have the option to retire under this Act or under Commonwealth Act No. 186, as previously amended.

Accordingly, Commonwealth Act No. 186, as amended, had not been abrogated by P.D. No. 1146.

Meanwhile, R.A. No. 8291, although enacted to amend P.D. No. 1146, did not expressly repeal Commonwealth Act No. 186.

Under the first instance of implied repeal, we are guided by the principle that in order to effect a repeal by implication, the later statute must be so irreconcilably inconsistent with and repugnant to the existing law that they cannot be reconciled and made to stand together. The clearest case of inconsistency must be made before the inference of implied repeal can be drawn, for inconsistency is never presumed.23

We now examine the effect of the later statutes on the provision specifically dealing with employees dismissed for cause.

We again quote Section 11(d) of Commonwealth Act No. 186, as amended:

(d) Upon dismissal for cause or on voluntary separation, he shall be entitled only to his own premiums and voluntary deposits, if any, plus interest of three per centum per annum, compounded monthly.

Compare this with Section 4 of P.D. No. 1146, to wit:

Section 4. Effect of Separation from the Service. A member shall continue to be a member, notwithstanding his separation from the service and, unless the terms of his separation provide otherwise, he shall be entitled to whatever benefits which shall have accrued or been earned at the time of his separation in the event of any contingency compensable under this Act.

and Section 1 of R.A. No. 8291, which amended Section 4 of P.D. No. 1146 and the law in force at the time of Cesarís dismissal from the service:

SEC. 4. Effect of Separation from the Service. Ė A member separated from the service shall continue to be a member, and shall be entitled to whatever benefits he has qualified to in the event of any contingency compensable under this Act.

There is no manifest inconsistency between Section 11(d) of Commonwealth Act No. 186, as amended, and Section 4 of R.A. No. 8291. The latter provision is a general statement intended to cover members separated from the service whether the separation is voluntary or involuntary, and whether the same was for cause or not. Moreover, the same deals only with the benefits the member is entitled to at the time of separation.

For the latter law to be deemed as having repealed the earlier law, it is necessary to show that the statutes or statutory provisions deal with the same subject matter and that the latter be inconsistent with the former. There must be a showing of repugnance, clear and convincing in character. The language used in the later statute must be such as to render it irreconcilable with what had been formerly enacted. An inconsistency that falls short of that standard does not suffice.24

As mentioned earlier, neither P.D. No. 1146 nor R.A. No. 8291 contains any provision specifically dealing with employees dismissed for cause and the status of their personal contributions. Thus, there is no inconsistency between Section 11(d) of Commonwealth Act No. 186, as amended, and Section 4 of P.D. No. 1146, and, subsequently, R.A. No. 8291. The inevitable conclusion then is that Section 11(d) of Commonwealth Act No. 186, as amended, continues to govern cases of employees dismissed for cause and their claims for the return of their personal contributions.

Finally, it should be remembered that the GSIS laws are in the nature of social legislation, to be liberally construed in favor of the government employees.25 The money subject of the instant request consists of personal contributions made by the employee, premiums paid in anticipation of benefits expected upon retirement. The occurrence of a contingency, i.e., his dismissal from the service prior to reaching retirement age, should not deprive him of the money that belongs to him from the outset. To allow forfeiture of these personal contributions in favor of the GSIS would condone undue enrichment.

Pursuant to the foregoing discussion, Cesar is entitled to the return of his premiums and voluntary deposits, if any, with interest of three per centum per annum, compounded monthly.

WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, the Government Service Insurance System is hereby DIRECTED to return to Atty. Cesar Lledo his own premiums and voluntary deposits, if any, plus interest of three per centum per annum, compounded monthly.

SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO EDUARDO B. NACHURA
Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
RENATO C. CORONA
Associate Justice
CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES
Associate Justice
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
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
JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ
Associate Justice

JOSE CATRAL MENDOZA
Associate Justice


Footnotes

1 Rollo, pp. 267-278.

2 Id. at 276.

3 Id. at 283.

4 Id. at 288-289.

5 Id. at 290.

6 Id. at 293.

7 Id. at 304-305.

8 Id. at 307.

9 Id. at 310.

10 Id. at 316.

11 Id. at 327.

12 Id. at 328.

13 Id. at 329-332.

14 Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 19-99.

15 Commonwealth Act No. 186, Sec. 3.

16 Emphasis supplied.

17 Emphasis supplied.

18 Intia, Jr. v. COA, 366 Phil. 273, 291-292 (1999).

19 Id. at 290.

20 Id.

21 P.D. No. 1146, Sixth Whereas clause.

22 P.D. No. 1146. Sec. 48.

23 Agujetas v. CA, 329 Phil. 721, 745-746 (1996), citing Iloilo Palay and Corn Planters Association,, Inc. v. Feliciano, 13 SCRA 377.

24 Id. at 746, citing Villegas v. Subido, 41 SCRA 190.

25 Profeta v. Drilon, G.R. No. 104139, December 22, 1992, 216 SCRA 777, 783.


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