106 PHIL 1031
Nera, a clerk in the Maternity and Children's Hospital (a gov't institution under the Bureau of Hospitals and Dept. of Health), served as manager and cashier of the Maternity Employee's Cooperative Association, Inc. He was charged before the Court of First Instance with malversation for allegedly misappropriating funds belonging to the association. On the basis of the said pending criminal case, an administrative complaint charging him for dishonesty and misconduct was charged against him.
Before he could file the answer required of him, he was suspended. He filed the instant case where the court held that the suspension was illegal because it was effected without notice and hearing, and assuming that he was guilty, the facts constituting the charges against him have no relation to the performance of his duties.
Is the suspension of Nera illegal?
No. The suspension in the instant case is merely a preventive measure, not a punishment or penalty. “There is, therefore, nothing improper in suspending an officer pending his investigation and before charges against him are heard and he be given an opportunity to prove his innocence.”
Under the Civil Service Law of 1959 (R.A. No. 2260), when the person charged is merely guilty of neglect, the same must be in the performance of his duty; but when he is charged with dishonesty, oppression or grave misconduct, these need have no relation to the performance of duty. Moreover, the act of misappropriation cannot be said to be entirely disconnected with petitioner's office. While it is true that the cooperative association that owns the funds is a private entity, petitioner was designated as cashier and manager although he is a mere clerk because he was a hospital employee.
An elective official stands on a different ground from that of an appointive officer or employee. Being elected by popular vote, an election officer is directly responsible only to the community that elected him. He is not ordinarily amenable to rules of official conduct governing appointive officials, and so, he may not be forthwith and summarily suspended, unless his conduct and acts of irregularity have some connection with his office. He has a definite term of office, relatively of short duration, and since suspension from his office definitely affects and shortens his term of office, said suspension should not be ordered and done unless necessary to prevent further damage or injury to the office, and to the people dealing with said officer.