Case Digest: The Board of GSIS vs. Velasco

G.R. No. 170463 : February 2, 2011

THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM and WINSTON F. GARCIA, in his capacity as GSIS President and General Manager, Petitioners, v. ALBERT M. VELASCO and MARIO I. MOLINA, Respondents.

CARPIO, J.:


FACTS:

Petitioners charged respondents administratively with grave misconduct for their alleged participation in the demonstration held by some GSIS employees, and placed them under preventive suspension for 90 days.

Respondents asked that they be allowed to avail of certain employee privileges but were denied because of their pending administrative case.

Petitioner promulgated Resolutions 372 and 197 disqualifying employees with pending administartive case from step increment and other benefits and privileges. Respondents claimed that the denial of the employee benefits due them on the ground of their pending administrative cases violates their right to be presumed innocent and that they are being punished without hearing.

In its 24 September 2004 Decision, the trial court granted respondents’ petition for prohibition, restraining petitioners from implementing the above resolutions.

ISSUES:

Whether or not the trial court, and not the Civil Service Commission, has jurisdiction.

Whether or not the resolutions need to be filed with the UP Law Center to be valid.

Whether or not a regulation, which disqualifies government employees who have pending administrative cases from the grant of step increment and Christmas raffle benefits is unconstitutional.


HELD:

Petition is partially meritorious.

REMEDIAL LAW: Jurisdiction for prohibition

First Issue:

Civil Case No. 03-108389 is a petition for prohibition with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction. Respondents prayed that the trial court declare all acts emanating from Resolution Nos. 372, 197, and 306 void and to prohibit petitioners from further enforcing the said resolutions. Therefore, the trial court, not the CSC, has jurisdiction over respondents’ petition for prohibition.

Also, the petition for prohibition filed by respondents is a special civil action which may be filed in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan or the regional trial court, as the case may be. Thus, it may be commenced and tried where the plaintiff or any of the principal plaintiffs resides, or where the defendant or any of the principal defendants resides, at the election of the plaintiff. Therefore, the RTC did not err when it took cognizance of respondents’ petition for prohibition because it had jurisdiction over the action and the venue was properly laid before it.

Second Issue:

CIVIL LAW: Validity of regulations

Not all rules and regulations adopted by every government agency are to be filed with the UP Law Center. Only those of general or of permanent character are to be filed. Interpretative regulations and those merely internal in nature, that is, regulating only the personnel of the Administrative agency and not the public, need not be filed with the UP Law Center. The assailed resolutions pertained only to internal rules meant to regulate the personnel of the GSIS. There was no need for the publication or filing of these resolutions with the UP Law Center.

Third Issue:

LABOR LAW: Preventive suspension

If an employee who was suspended as a penalty will be treated like an employee on approved vacation leave without pay, then it is only fair and reasonable to apply the same rules to an employee who was preventively suspended, more so considering that preventive suspension is not a penalty. An employee who was preventively suspended will still be entitled to step increment after serving the time of his preventive suspension even if the pending administrative case against him has not yet been resolved or dismissed.

Also, the trial court was correct in declaring that respondents had the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Therefore, after serving the period of their preventive suspension and without the administrative case being finally resolved, respondents should have been reinstated and, after serving the same number of days of their suspension, entitled to the grant of step increment.

DENIED.

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