Carbonel v. CSC (G.R. No. 187689; September 7, 2010)


FACTS: Petitioner Clarita J. Carbonel was an employee of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Makati City. She was formally charged with Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct, and Falsification of Official Documents by the Civil Service Commission Regional Office No. IV (CSCRO IV).

On May 21, 1999, petitioner went to the CSCRO IV to secure a copy of the result of the Computer Assisted Test (CATS) Career Service Professional Examination given on March 14, 1999, because she lost the original copy of her Career Service Professional Certificate of Rating (hereafter referred to as certificate of rating). Petitioner was directed to accomplish a verification slip. The Examination Placement and Service Division noticed that petitioner’s personal and physical appearance was entirely different from the picture of the examinee attached to the application form and the picture seat plan. It was also discovered that the signature affixed on the application form was different from that appearing on the verification slip. Because of these discrepancies, the Legal Affairs Division of the CSCRO IV conducted an investigation.

In the course of the investigation, petitioner voluntarily made a statement admitting that, sometime in March 1999, she accepted the proposal of a certain Bettina J. Navarro (Navarro) for the latter to obtain for petitioner a Career Service Professional Eligibility by merely accomplishing an application form and paying the amount of P10,000.00.

After the formal investigation, the CSCRO IV rendered its Decision finding petitioner guilty of dishonesty, grave misconduct, and falsification of official documents. The penalty of dismissal from the service, with all its accessory penalties, was imposed on her.Petitioner appealed, but the CSC dismissed the same for having been filed almost three years from receipt of the CSCRO IV decision.

Unsatisfied, petitioner elevated the matter to the CA. The CA rendered the assailed decision affirming the decisions and resolutions of the CSCRO IV and the CSC.

ISSUE: Was the petitioner’s finding of guilt grounded entirely on her unsworn statement that she admitted the offenses charged and without the assistance of a counsel?

HELD: The Right to Counsel is meant to protect a suspect during a custodial investigation and not during an administrative investigation.

It is undisputed that petitioner appealed the CSCRO IV’s decision almost three years from receipt thereof. Undoubtedly, the appeal was filed way beyond the reglementary period when the decision had long become final and executory.

This notwithstanding, on petition before the CA, the appellate court reviewed the case and disposed of it on the merits, not on pure technicality.

It must be remembered that the right to counsel under Section 12 of the Bill of Rights is meant to protect a suspect during custodial investigation. Thus, the exclusionary rule under paragraph (2), Section 12 of the Bill of Rights applies only to admissions made in a criminal investigation but not to those made in an administrative investigation.

As such, the admissions made by petitioner during the investigation may be used as evidence to justify her dismissal. We have carefully scrutinized the records of the case below and we find no compelling reason to deviate from the findings of the CSC and the CA. The written admission of petitioner is replete with details that could have been known only to her. Besides, petitioner’s written statement was not the only basis of her dismissal from the service. Records show that the CSCRO IV’s conclusion was reached after consideration of all the documentary and testimonial evidence submitted by the parties during the formal investigation.