‘Ignorantia legis’

CSC: Removal of Vizcaya workers by gov illegal

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has declared as illegal the order of Gov. Ruth Padilla to demote and dismiss 196 permanent employees of the provincial government.

In her Oct. 10 decision, Bienvenida Ragucos, CSC regional director in Cagayan Valley, said Padilla’s order was illegal because she did not have the authority to revoke civil service appointments.

Ragucos also ordered the workers’ reinstatement with payment of their back wages.

“All told, it is clear that [Governor] Padilla overstepped her authority by arrogating unto herself a power which, by clear mandate of the law, resides in the [CSC],” said the decision, a copy of which was received by provincial government employees on Tuesday.

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Padilla

The decision stemmed from the appeals separately filed in the CSC office in Tuguegarao City by at least six groups of rank-and-file employees whose promotions and appointments were earlier revoked by Padilla.

On her first day in office on July 1, Padilla issued Executive Order No. 3, which nullified the appointments of 196 employees, citing supposed violations of election laws, civil service rules and the Local Government Code.

Padilla’s EO was followed by the passage of the province’s 2013 budget ordinance, which slashed the funds for the salaries of permanent employees covered by her order.

Starting July, the employees were forced to stop reporting for work after they were no longer paid their salaries and after they were issued directives by lawyer Voltaire Garcia, provincial legal officer, to stop going to work.

A number of employees also filed cases in the regional trial court, seeking intervention to declare the EO and the budget ordinance void.

Graft charges against Padilla and the provincial board members were being prepared for filing in the Office of the Ombudsman, the complainants said.

But out of the 196 permanent employees affected, only 84 filed their appeal with the CSC. A number of them felt helpless and opted to abandon their plight and look for other jobs elsewhere.

Others were coaxed into accepting new appointments in the provincial government as casuals.

The CSC decision disagreed with Padilla’s contention that the appointments, issued by her predecessor and political rival, then Gov. Luisa Cuaresma, was not validly passed upon by a personnel selection and promotion board (PSPB), as required by the local code.

“Inarguably, there was a PSPB which screened and deliberated the applicants for the various positions at (the provincial government of) Nueva Vizcaya,” the decision read in part.

The commission also ratified the validity of appointments made by Cuaresma after the May 13 elections, often referred to as “midnight appointments’, saying it cannot override the competence of the former governor to determine the necessity of the appointments.

It also pointed out that while Padilla has claimed to have been clothed with the authority to revoke, recall and withdraw the questioned appointments, she failed to cite the specific applicable law.

“This office cannot hold and sustain her argument for her failure to point out the specific provision(s) of the law(s) where her power to recall appointments emanate. To reiterate, it is only the Commission which can revoke, recall or withdraw an appointment initially approved,” it said.

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