Sunday, September 25, 2011

concurrent jurisdiction of the BOR and CSC

In University of the Philippines v. Regino,[38] this Court struck down the claim of exclusive jurisdiction of the UP BOR to discipline its employees. The Court held then:

The Civil Service Law (PD 807) expressly vests in the Commission appellate jurisdiction in administrative disciplinary cases involving members of the Civil Service. Section 9(j) mandates that the Commission shall have the power to "hear and decide administrative disciplinary cases instituted directly with it in accordance with Section 37 or brought to it on appeal." And Section 37(a) provides that, "The Commission shall decide upon appeal all administrative disciplinary cases involving the imposition of a penalty of suspension for more than thirty (30) days, or fine in an amount exceeding thirty days' salary, demotion in rank or salary or transfer, removal or dismissal from office." (Emphasis supplied)

Under the 1972 Constitution, all government-owned or controlled corporations, regardless of the manner of their creation, were considered part of the Civil Service. Under the 1987 Constitution, only government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters fall within the scope of the Civil Service pursuant to Article IX-B, Section 2(1), which states:

"The Civil Service embraces all branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities, and agencies of the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters."

As a mere government-owned or controlled corporation, UP was clearly a part of the Civil Service under the 1973 Constitution and now continues to be so because it was created by a special law and has an original charter. As a component of the Civil Service, UP is therefore governed by PD 807 and administrative cases involving the discipline of its employees come under the appellate jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission.[39] (Emphasis supplied)

In the more recent case of Camacho v. Gloria,[40] this Court lent credence to the concurrent jurisdiction of the CSC when it affirmed that a case against a university official may be filed either with the university's BOR or directly with the CSC. We quote:

Further, petitioner contends that the creation of the committee by the respondent Secretary, as Chairman of the USP Board of Regents, was contrary to the Civil Service Rules. However, he cites no specific provision of the Civil Service Law which was violated by the respondents in forming the investigating committee. The Civil Service Rules embodied in Executive Order 292 recognize the power of the Secretary and the university, through its governing board, to investigate and decide matters involving disciplinary action against officers and employees under their jurisdiction. Of course under EO 292, a complaint against a state university official may be filed either with the university's Board of Regents or directly with the Civil Service Commission, although the CSC may delegate the investigation of a complaint and for that purpose, may deputize any department, agency, official or group of officials to conduct such investigation.[41] (Emphasis supplied)

Thus, CSC validly took cognizance of the administrative complaints directly filed before the regional office, concerning violations of civil service rules against respondent.

III. Academic freedom may not be invoked when there are alleged violations of civil service laws and rules.

Certainly, academic institutions and personnel are granted wide latitude of action under the principle of academic freedom. Academic freedom encompasses the freedom to determine who may teach, who may be taught, how it shall be taught, and who may be admitted to study.[42] Following that doctrine, this Court has recognized that institutions of higher learning has the freedom to decide for itself the best methods to achieve their aims and objectives, free from outside coercion, except when the welfare of the general public so requires.[43] They have the independence to determine who to accept to study in their school and they cannot be compelled by mandamus to enroll a student.[44]

That principle, however, finds no application to the facts of the present case. Contrary to the matters traditionally held to be justified to be within the bounds of academic freedom, the administrative complaints filed against Sojor involve violations of civil service rules. He is facing charges of nepotism, dishonesty, falsification of official documents, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. These are classified as grave offenses under civil service rules, punishable with suspension or even dismissal.[45]

This Court has held that the guaranteed academic freedom does not give an institution the unbridled authority to perform acts without any statutory basis.[46] For that reason, a school official, who is a member of the civil service, may not be permitted to commit violations of civil service rules under the justification that he was free to do so under the principle of academic freedom.

Lastly, We do not agree with respondent's contention that his appointment to the position of president of NORSU, despite the pending administrative cases against him, served as a condonation by the BOR of the alleged acts imputed to him. The doctrine this Court laid down in Salalima v. Guingona, Jr.[47] and Aguinaldo v. Santos[48] are inapplicable to the present circumstances. Respondents in the mentioned cases are elective officials, unlike respondent here who is an appointed official. Indeed, election expresses the sovereign will of the people.[49] Under the principle of vox populi est suprema lex, the re-election of a public official may, indeed, supersede a pending administrative case. The same cannot be said of a re-appointment to a non-career position. There is no sovereign will of the people to speak of when the BOR re-appointed respondent Sojor to the post of university president.

[ G.R. No. 168766, May 22, 2008 ]
THE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, Petitioner, vs. HENRY A. SOJOR, Respondent.

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