CONTEMPT

N. Vizcaya gov sued for failure to reinstate dismissed employees

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–A group of provincial employees on Thursday filed contempt charges against Gov. Ruth Padilla for her alleged failure to reinstate some 70 of the 180 employees she illegally terminated and demoted in 2013.

In their petition, the group asked the commission to cite Padilla in contempt and that she be meted administrative sanctions for supposedly defying its Sept. 2014 order to reinstate the employees and to pay them their back salaries and other benefits.

“(This) is a crystalline, willful and contumacious refusal and failure on the part of (Padilla) to comply with lawful orders of the honorable commission which she swore to comply (with) and abide (by) when she assumed her position as the honorable governor of the province of Nueva Vizcaya,” the petitioners said.
  
The employees said Padilla allegedly ignored their appeals and did not act on a notice from the CSC regional office which reminded her of the executory nature of the decision, and warned her of possible criminal and administrative liability for failure to comply.

The petitioners said Padilla also did not respond to two letters they sent her–on April 8 and 24–before she left and after she returned from her 12-day travel abroad.

“Instead of complying [with] and heeding the letters, (Padilla)…filed a ‘leave of absence on account of a personal travel abroad’,” the complaining employees said.

Section 121 of the rules on administrative cases in the civil service provides that “any officer or employee who willfully refuses to implement a final resolution, decision, order or ruling” of the CSC may be cited in indirect contempt and may be administratively charged.

This writer tried to seek lawyer Voltaire Garcia, provincial legal officer, on Thursday but he did not respond to text queries and calls on his mobile phone. Members of his staff said the office has not yet received a copy of the petition.

In its decision, the CSC en banc affirmed the ruling of its Cagayan Valley office which nullified Padilla’s executive order that revoked the appointments and promotions of about 180 employees by her predecessor, former Gov. Luisa Cuaresma.

It ordered Padilla to allow the return of the workers, saying that the appointments of 162 of the 180 were valid. She and her fellow officials had sought for a reconsideration, but it was denied by the commission.

On April 27, the group of dismissed employees tried to report for work, but only to be told by Vice Governor Epifanio Galima Jr. that Padilla was on travel abroad, and that he, as acting governor, cannot act on their request for reinstatement.

“Their appointment was declared null and void, so they would have to be appointed again. But I cannot give them their new appointments because I am just an acting governor,” he told reporters in an interview.

He also said the province does not have sufficient funds to cover the payment of salaries to the returning employees, as well as of their backwages.

Galima added that they have filed a petition for review before the Court Appeals, which, they hoped, would issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) and an order for injunction.

The CA, however, has not since issued a TRO, prompting Padilla and her officials to file a “very urgent motion” to “reiterate” their earlier request.

Padilla’s subsequent motion, the employees said, proves that no TRO has yet been issued, and leaves no reason for her not to abide by the CSC directive.
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