Sultan Maminta M. Radia vs Review Committee under E.O. No. 17
G.R. No. 78973
January 29, 1988
Petitioner was appointed as City Engineer of Marawi City on 1 May 1985.
On 1 April 1986, respondent Basman, OIC of the City Mayor’s Office of Marawi City, issued a Memorandum addressed to all Heads of Offices and Personnel directing the immediate transfer & delivery of all office equipment to, and directing all personnel, to hold office at the New City Hall, Bangon, Marawi City effective April 2, 1986.
On 4 April 1986, Basman issued a Memorandum directly addressed to petitioner stating that he had been reliably informed that most of the City Engineering Equipment had been intentionally destroyed by some “bad elements”. He directed petitioner to transfer immediately all equipment to the present City Public Works and Highway Engineer’s Office with the warning that failure to comply would constitute “malfeasance and serious insubordination” and that petitioner would be held responsible for any further loss of or damage to the said City Equipment.
On 30 April 1986, respondent Basman terminated petitioner from his position and designated Pangadapun as OIC of the Office of the City Engineer of Marawi City.
On 28 May 1986, petitioner wrote to the Regional Director, Regional Office No. 12, Civil Service Commission (CSC), Cotabato City protesting his termination from the service and asking that the Pangadapun’s designation be withdrawn. The CSC Regional Director then withdrew his approval of Pangadapun’s appointment/designation, but eventually reversed his initial ruling & re-approved Pangadapun’s appointment upon Basman’s Motion for Reconsideration, subject to final resolution of petitioner’s protest by the Review Committee under Executive Order No. 17.
Petitioner sought reconsideration of the CSC Regional Director’s last ruling. This request was forwarded to the Minister of Justice for appropriate action under the provisions of EO No. 17.
On 10 October 1986, the Review Committee under EO No. 17 dismissed petitioner’s appeal for lack of merit. Petitioner then appealed to the Office of the President, but was dismissed by the latter stating that decisions of the Review Committee are final and unappealable under Section 8 of Executive Order No. 17.
WON the following are null and void:
(1) The termination of petitioner as City Engineer of by Basman and the designation of Pangadapun as OIC City Engineer
(2) The Review Committee’s Resolution affirming the termination of petitioner’s appointment.
Article III (2) of of the Provisional Constitution provided as follows:
All elective and appointive officials under the 1973 Constitution shall continue in office until otherwise provided by proclamation or executive order or upon the designation or appointment and qualification of their successors, if such is made within a period of one year from February 25, 1986. (Emphasis supplied)
The above organic provision did not require the existence of any cause for removal/termination of any of the elective and appointive officials under the 1973 Constitution. This being so, petitioner was lawfully terminated from his position as City Engineer upon the designation/appointment and qualification of respondent Pangadapun as his successor. Respondent Basman’s authority, as OIC of the Office of the City Mayor of Marawi City, to appoint/designate the City Engineer cannot be seriously questioned in review of the provisions of Section 185 (1) of B.P. Blg. 337 (LGC) which amended the provisions of the City Charter of Marawi City, originally lodging that authority in the President of the Philippines.
Although the Provisional Constitution did not require any ground/cause for removal, the Government, in an act of auto-limitation and “to prevent indiscriminate dismissals of personnel in the Career Civil Service whose qualifications and performance meet the standards of public service of the New Government,” issued EO No. 17 which enumerated certain grounds for the separation or replacement of elective and appointive officials authorized under Article III (2) of the Provisional Constitution.
These grounds were:
1) Existence of a case for summary dismissal pursuant to Section 40 of the Civil Service Law;
2) Existence of a probable cause for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act as determined by the Ministry Head concerned;
3) Gross incompetence or inefficiency in the discharge of functions;
4) Misuse of public office for partisan political purposes; [and]
5) Any other analogous ground showing that the incumbent is unfit to remain in the service or his separation/replacement is in the interest of the service.
In the instant case, petitioner appealed to the respondent Review Committee established under Section 5 of Executive Order No. 17 precisely to pass upon all petitions for reconsideration filed by any official or employee separated from the service in the course of implementing Article III (2) of the Provisional Constitution. The Review Committee held that petitioner’s persistent failure to comply with lawful orders of respondent Basman fell within Ground No. 5 of Executive Order No. 17.
The Solicitor General has pointed out that, although heads of local governments, provincial governors and municipal mayors may be under the supervision of the Secretary of Local Government.
Local Governments are not “attached to” the Department of Local Governments in the same sense that bureaus and offices under, for instance, the Department of Justice are attached to that department. Provinces and municipalities are instrumentalities or units of local government vested with their own legislative and executive powers under the Local Government Code.
Accordingly, for the limited purposes of Executive Order No. 17, heads of local governments may well be considered as Ministry (department) Heads. Petitioner’s removal was reviewed and confirmed by the Review Committee, a body which is certainly of ministerial rank. Thus, the assumed requirement of EO No. 17 that the removal of petitioner be effected by a “Ministry Head” may be regarded as substantially complied with.
EO 17 is a self-limiting act & its provisions are not only non-penal in nature, but also clearly more favorable to petitioner than those of Article III (2) of the Provisional Constitution. As such, there is no legal nor moral obstacle to the retrospective application of EO No. 17 which expressly envisaged its application to “those already separated from the service on the issuance of this Order, including those whose resignations were accepted or whose successors have been appointed/designated” (Sec. 6).