Grave offense, light penalty

Published by rudy Date posted on March 17, 2009

This is a case which explains why dishonesty in the government cannot be totally eradicated. Even if dishonesty is a grave offense that calls for dismissal from the service, there are still instances when the government employee is not dismissed because of “mitigating” circumstances like in this case of Marcos.

Marcos has been in the government service for 20 years more or less starting as a lowly laborer at the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and made a steady ascent until he was appointed as Civil Engineer II in an engineering district (SED) of the Department of Public works and Highways (DPWH). In fact he even received a loyalty cash award of P1,500 for supposedly rendering 10 years of unbroken service in the DPWH and was recommended for promotion as Engineer III in SED DPWH.

In turned out however that to gain the award and impending promotion Marcos submitted three separate Personal Data Sheets (PDS) or Civil Service Form 212 on December 20, 1988 (first), March 2, 1992 and 1994 (third) containing different and conflicting pieces of information as to his employment for the period 1984-1986. He stated in his second PDS that he worked at the Philippine-Japan Highway Loan Division (PJHLD) of the DPWH Region 8 from May 1, 1984 until October 1986 and indicated in his third PDS that he was “on leave” from his job as civil engineer at DPWH Region 8 from January 1, 1984 up to October 9, 1986, when, in fact, he was working at PHILPOS Bagacay Mines during the same period according to his first PDS.

When charged with falsification of official documents, dishonesty, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and grave misconduct, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) found him guilty of dishonesty and imposed upon him the penalty of dismissal from the service. Upon appeal to the Court of Appeals (CA) the latter also found him guilty of dishonesty but held that the penalty of dismissal should be reduced to one year suspension from work without pay considering that: (1) Marcos had been in the government service for almost 20 years; (2) this was his first offense; (3) he rose from the ranks as a mere laborer until he was promoted to Engineer II at the SED-DPWH; and (4) he returned the loyalty cash award of P1,500. Was the CA correct?

Yes. While Section 53 A (1) of the Civil Service Rules classifies dishonesty as a grave offense with a corresponding penalty of dismissal even if committed for the first time, Section 53 of the same Rules provide that in the determination of the penalties to be imposed . . . mitigating circumstances attendant to the commission of the offense shall be considered such as length of service to the government, frequency or habitualness in committing the offense and other analogous circumstances. Marcos’ 20 years of government service and unblemished record in the past and the fact that he returned the cash award are circumstances that mitigate the imposable penalty from dismissal to one year suspension from service without pay, pursuant to said Section 53 of the Civil Service Rules. But he is hereby warned that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future will be dealt with more severely (Miel vs. Malindog, G.R. 143538, February 13, 2009).

Note: Books containing compilation of my articles on Labor Law and Criminal Law (Vols. I and II) are now available. Call tel. 7249445.- Jose C. Sison, Philippine Star

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