TIDCORP vs Manalang-Demigilio (G.R. No. 176343 September 18, 2012)

TIDCORP vs Manalang-Demigilio
G.R. No. 176343 September 18, 2012

Facts: Trade and Investment Development Corporation of the Philippines (TIDCORP) is a wholly owned government corporation whose primary purpose is to guarantee foreign loans, in whole or in part, granted to any domestic entity, enterprise or corporation organized or licensed to engage in business in the Philippines. On May 13, 2003, the Board of Directors of TIDCORP formally charged Maria Rosario Manalang-Demigillo (Demigillo), then a Senior Vice-President in TIDCORP, with grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, .insubordination, and gross discourtesy in the course of official duties. Finally, and after considering Section 19 of the same Rules, which gives authority to the disciplining body to issue an order of preventive suspension, you are hereby preventively suspended for a period of ninety (90) days from receipt hereof.

Issue: Whether or not preventive suspension of Demigilio is valid pending the administrative investigation.

Held: Yes. The Revised Administrative Code of 1987 (RAC) embodies the major structural, functional and procedural principles and rules of governance of government agencies and constitutional bodies like the CSC. Section 1, Chapter 1, Subtitle A, Title I, Book V, of the RAC states that the CSC is the central personnel agency of the government. Section 51 and Section 52, Chapter 6, Subtitle A, Title I, Book V of the RAC respectively contain the rule on preventive suspension of a civil service officer or employee pending investigation, and the duration of the preventive suspension.

Section 51. Preventive Suspension. – The proper disciplining authority may preventively suspend any subordinate officer or employee under his authority pending an investigation, if the charge against such officer or employee involves dishonesty, oppression or grave misconduct, or neglect in the performance of duty, or if there are reasons to believe that the respondent is guilty of charges which would warrant his removal from the service.

Pursuant to its rule-making authority, the CSC promulgated the Uniform Rules on August 31, 1999. Section 19 and Section 20 of Rule II of the Uniform Rules defined the guidelines in the issuance of an order of preventive suspension and the duration of the suspension.

It is clear from Section 19, supra, that before an order of preventive suspension pending an investigation may validly issue, only two prerequisites need be shown, namely: (1) that the proper disciplining authority has served a formal charge to the affected officer or employee; and (2) that the charge involves either dishonesty, oppression, grave misconduct, neglect in the performance of duty, or if there are reasons to believe that the respondent is guilty of the charges which would warrant her removal from the service. Proof showing that the subordinate officer or employee may unduly influence the witnesses against her or may tamper the documentary evidence on file in her office is not among the prerequisites.

CSC Resolution No. 030502 apparently reiterates the rule stated in Section 19 of the Uniform Rules, supra, that for a preventive suspension to issue, there must be a formal charge and the charge involves the offenses enumerated therein. The resolution considers an order of preventive suspension as null and void if the order was not premised on any of the mentioned grounds, or if the order was issued without a formal charge. As in the case of Section 19, the resolution does not include as a condition for issuing an order of preventive suspension that there must be proof adduced showing that the subordinate officer or employee may unduly influence the witnesses against her or tamper the documentary evidence in her custody.

Preventing the subordinate officer or employee from influencing the witnesses and tampering the documentary evidence under her custody are mere purposes for which an order of preventive suspension may issue as reflected under paragraph 2 of Section 19, supra. This is apparent in the phrase “for the same purpose” found in paragraph 3 of Section 19. A “purpose” cannot be considered and understood as a “condition.” A purpose means “reason for which something is done or exists,” while a condition refers to a “necessary requirement for something else to happen;” or is a “restriction, qualification.” The two terms have different meanings and implications, and one cannot substitute for the other.

                                                                                                                                        

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