In Anti-Graft & Corruption Law, Undue Injury = Actual Damage

Respondents were indicted for violation of Section 3(e) of Rep. Act No. 3019, which provides:

Section. 3. Corrupt Practices of Public Officer. In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and hereby declared to be unlawful.

x x x x

(e) Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inex[c]usable negligence. This provision shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions.

x x x x

To hold a person liable under this section, the prosecution must establish beyond reasonable doubt that:

(1) the accused is a public officer or a private person charged in conspiracy with the former;
(2) the public officer commits the prohibited acts during the performance of his or her official duties or in relation to his or her public functions;
(3) he or she causes undue injury to any party, whether the government or a private party; and
(4) the public officer has acted with manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.

Undue means more than necessary; not proper; or illegal while injury denotes any wrong or damage done to another, either in his person, rights, reputation, or property. In the context of these definitions, jurisprudence has interpreted undue injury to mean actual damage, similar to that in civil law. Bad faith on the other hand does not simply connote bad judgment or negligence, but rather it implies the conscious doing of a wrong because of dishonest purpose or moral obliquity. Thus, mere bad faith or partiality is not enough for one to be held liable under the law since the element of bad faith or partiality must, in the first place, be evident. It is further required that undue injury impacts upon a specified party.
Respondents dropped petitioner from the roll of employees in obedience to Section 2, Rule XII of the Revised Omnibus Rules on Appointments and Other Personnel Actions. For acting within the purview of law, no bad faith can be ascribed to them. Neither was bad faith evident when respondents failed to immediately carry out the Order of CSC-ARMM. While the Order was executory after 15 days from receipt by respondents, and the appeal did not stay execution, mere delay in its implementation did not constitute evident bad faith. Evident bad faith connotes a manifest deliberate intent to do wrong or cause damage, which the Supreme Court did not find present in this case. Even assuming that the action taken by respondents was erroneous, it was certainly not criminal in nature. At most, the liability of respondents may be civil if not administrative. Section 83 of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service is pertinent:

SEC. 83. Non-Execution of Decision. Any officer or employee who willfully refuses or fails to implement the final resolution, decision, order or ruling of the Commission to the prejudice of the public service and the affected party, may be cited in contempt of the Commission and administratively charged with conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service or neglect of duty.

Note, however, that this rule applies to a final resolution, decision, order or ruling of the Commission, and not one on appeal.

As to petitioners allegation of undue injury, the ruling of the Court in Llorente, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan is instructive:

After an employee, whose salary was withheld, fully received her monetary claims, there is no longer any basis for compensatory damages or undue injury, there being nothing more to compensate.

Moreover, in the case of Jacinto v. Sandiganbayan, the Supreme Court held that:

Nevertheless, no real or actual damage was suffered by her. She got her withheld salary released. Her name was restored in the plantilla. Thus, the complainant did not suffer undue injuryas an element required by the law. Such an injury must be more than necessary, excessive, improper or illegal. (G.R. No. 162938; December 27, 2007)

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