Constitutional Law, Political Law

ABAD v. DELA CRUZ G.R. No. 207422, March 18, 2015 J. Leonen, Civil Service Commission

FACTS:

Mayor Jaime R. Fresnedi appointed Herminio Dela Cruz as City Assessor of the City Government of Muntinlupa in a permanent capacity on December 28, 2006. The City Assessor is given the item of City Government Department Head III.

In Resolution No. 06-361, majority of the members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City Government of Muntinlupa concurred in the appointment.

Pursuant to Civil Service Commission Resolution No. 02-1235 granting the City Government of Muntinlupa the power to take final action on its appointments, the appointment of Dela Cruz was considered attested to by the Civil Service Commission.

Angel A. Abad, Local Assessment Operations Officer V in the Office of the City Assessor, wrote the CSC and requested the disapproval of Dela Cruz’s appointment alleging that the position of City Government Department Head III corresponded to Salary Grade 27, nine (9) salary grades higher than Dela Cruz’s former position as Local Assessment Operations Officer III with Salary Grade 18.12 According to Abad, Dela Cruz’s appointment violated Item 15 of Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 3, Series of 2001, which prohibits the promotion of an employee to a position more than three (3) salary grades above his or her former position.

Abad added that being a qualified next-in-rank, he applied for the position of City Government Department Head III. However, he and three (3) other qualified applicants were allegedly excluded from the selection process, in violation of the CSC Circular.

The CSC referred Abad’s letter to the City Government of Muntinlupa’s grievance machinery for proper action.

Abad filed with the Mayor’s Office the letter-complaint reiterating his request for disapproval of Dela Cruz’s permanent appointment as City Government Department Head III.

Finding that Dela Cruz’s promotion violated CSC Memorandum Circular No. 3, Series of 2001 on the three- salary-grade rule, the Grievance Committee recommended the invalidation of Dela Cruz’s permanent appointment. This recommendation was approved by Mayor San Pedro.

The CSC-NCR invalidated Dela Cruz’s appointment.

On Dela Cruz’s appeal, the CSC reversed and set aside the said Decision.

The Civil Service Commission found thatDela Cruz underwent a deep selection process rendering his appointment “very meritorious[.]”

Abad’s Motion for Reconsideration was denied by the CSC.

The CA dismissed the Petition for Review filed by Abad.

Both Motion for Reconsideration and Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration filed by Abad were denied by the CA.

Hence, the instant petition.

ISSUE:

Whether or not respondent Dela Cruz’s promotion to the position of City Government Department Head III is void because it violated the next- in-rank rule.

RULING:

The Civil Service Commission is the “central personnel agency of the Government[.]” Its mandate is to ensure that appointments in the civil service are generally made on the basis of merit and fitness. The Commission is tasked to strengthen the merit and rewards system in the civil service by administering and enforcing the “constitutional and statutory provisions on the merit system for all levels and ranks in the Civil Service[.]”

The Constitution adopts the merit system to ensure that those appointed in the civil service are competent. This is to “eradicate the system of appointment to public office based on political considerations and to eliminate . . . the element of partisanship and personal favoritism in making appointments.”

“The civil service embraces all branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities, and agencies of the Government, including government- owned or controlled corporations with original charters.” Thus, all appointive local government employees are covered by civil service laws and rules. Appointive local government employees must possess the qualifications provided by law for the positions they hold.

The appointing authority in local government units, therefore, is the local chief executive who must assess the merits of the Personnel Selection Board’s recommendation. If heads of offices or departments in a local government unit are appointed, majority of the members of the sanggunian concerned must concur in the appointment. Finally, the appointment must be submitted to the Civil Service Commission for attestation within 30 days from the appointment’s issuance date.

A comparative evaluation of the qualifications of Dela Cruz as indicated in his Personal Data Sheet (PDS) vis-à-vis the qualification standards for the position of City Assessor III shows that he meets all the requirements for appointment thereto. Likewise, he satisfies the requirements prescribed by RA 7160. Hence, Dela Cruz qualifies for the issuance of permanent appointment as City Assessor III.

Moreover, the appointment of Dela Cruz was confirmed by the Sangguniang Panlungsod ng Muntinlupa in Resolution No. 06-361 dated December 7, 2006.

With its constitutional mandate, the Civil Service Commission has acquired “specialized knowledge and expertise” in the field of civil service law. Consequently, its findings of fact, if based on substantial evidence, are “accorded great respect and even finality” by appellate courts, this court included. Absent grave abuse of discretion, this court will not disturb the findings of fact of the Civil Service Commission.

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