WARNING

CSC to N. Vizcaya gov: let dismissed workers return or face charges

The Civil Service Commission has warned Gov. Ruth Padilla of possible criminal and administrative charges if she continues to defy an order from the agency to let the provincial employees, who she illegally removed from their posts in 2013, return to their work.

In a letter, lawyer Neil Agustin, acting CSC director for Cagayan Valley, sought Padilla for an update on the implementation of the decision which reinstates about 180 permanent employees of the provincial government, who the governor ordered dismissed and demoted upon her assumption to post.

Agustin cited the civil service law, which states: “Any officer or employee who willfully refuses or fails to implement the final resolution, decision or ruling of the (CSC)…may be cited in indirect contempt of the commission and may be administratively charged…or be held criminally liable…”, he said.

The letter of lawyer Neil Agustin, CSC acting regional director.
The letter of lawyer Neil Agustin, CSC acting regional director.

In a March 17 decision, the CSC denied the motion for reconsideration filed by the governor on the decision that orders her to allow the return of the dismissed and demoted employees, affirming its earlier verdict that Padilla “overstepped” her authority in ousting the employees from their positions.

It also ordered the governor to pay the employees their back salaries and other benefits since the time they were removed from office.

Agustin said that Padilla has not complied with the CSC ruling despite the notice given to her by the CSC in a letter dated March 31.

This writer sought Padilla in her office but her staff said she is on travel outside the country.

But lawyer Voltaire Garcia, the provincial legal officer, said the governor and the provincial board members have questioned the CSC decision before the Court of Appeals.

“We have filed a petition for review, wherein we asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order and injunction to stop the CSC from implementing its ruling,” he said in an interview.

But since no TRO has been issued by the court, the provincial government will have to comply with the CSC order, Garcia said.

Dismissed employees expressed disgust that provincial officials continued to the CSC order, which delay, they said, prolonged the hardships they had suffered since their removal.

“(Padilla and the provincial board members) do not seem to realize the struggles that we had to go through because of their illegal orders (as) a lot of dreams and plans have been foiled. Until when will they prevent us from attaining justice?” said Chona Estrada, a mother of two.

About 180 employees filed a case before the CSC after Padilla, on her first day in office on July 1, 2013, issued an executive order which revoked their appointments, which were approved by then Gov. Luisa Cuaresma.

Using Padilla’s order as basis, the provincial board later slashed from the province’s annual budget the funds for the dismissed and demoted employees’ salaries.

But the CSC, in its October 2014 decision, affirmed the validity of Cuaresma’s appointments, except for those of 16 employees who were enlisted after the May 11, 2013 elections. The said employees, however, have filed an appeal.

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