Case Digest: CSC v. Magnaye, Jr. G.R. NO. 183337 : April 23, 2010




In March 2001, Mayor Roman H. Rosales of Lemery, Batangas, appointed Magnaye as Utility Worker I at the Office of Economic Enterprise Operation of Market (OEE). After a few days, Mayor Rosales detailed him to the Municipal Planning and Development Office. In the May elections of that year, Mayor Rosales was defeated by Raul L. Benda, who assumed office on June 30, 2001. Thereafter, Magnaye was returned to his original assignment at the OEE.On July 11, 2001, Benda also placed him on detail at the Municipal Planning and Development Office to assist in the implementation of a Survey on the Integrated Rural Accessibility Planning Project. On August 13, 2001, the new mayor served him a notice of termination from employment effective the following day for unsatisfactory conduct and want of capacity. Magnaye questioned his termination before the CSC head office on the ground that Mayor Benda was not in a position to effectively evaluate his performance because it was made less than one and one-half months after his (Mayor Bendas) assumption to office.He added that his termination was without basis and was politically motivated. The CSC head office dismissed, without prejudice, Magnaye's complaint because he failed to attach a certificate of non-forum shopping. Thereafter, Magnaye filed a complaint with the regional office of the Civil Service(CSCRO-IV).The CSCRO-IV dismissed Magnayes complaint for lack of merit. Magnaye sought recourse through a petition for review with the Court of Appeals. The CA ruled in Magnaye's favor, mainly on the ground that he was denied due process since he was not informed of what constituted the alleged unsatisfactory conduct and want of capacity that led to his termination.

ISSUE: Whether or not the termination of Magnaye was in accordance with the pertinent laws and the rules.

HELD: Court of Appeals decision is affirmed.

POLITICAL LAW: termination of government employees

Under Civil Service rules, the first six months of service following a permanent appointment shall be probationary in nature, and the probationer may be dropped from the service for unsatisfactory conduct or want of capacity anytime before the expiration of the probationary period. The CSC is of the position that a civil service employee does not enjoy security of tenure during his 6-month probationary period. It submits that an employee's security of tenure starts only after the probationary period. Specifically, it argued that an appointee under an original appointment cannot lawfully invoke right to security of tenure until after the expiration of such period and provided that the appointee has not been notified of the termination of service or found unsatisfactory conduct before the expiration of the same. The CSC position is contrary to the Constitution and the Civil Service Law itself.Section 3 (2) Article 13 of the Constitution guarantees the rights of all workers not just in terms of self-organization, collective bargaining, peaceful concerted activities, the right to strike with qualifications, humane conditions of work and a living wage but also to security of tenure, and Section 2(3), Article IX-B is emphatic in saying that,"no officer or employee of the civil service shall be removed or suspended except for cause as provided by law."

Consistently, Section 46 (a) of the Civil Service Law provides thatno officer or employee in the Civil Service shall be suspended or dismissed except for cause as provided by law after due process. The Constitution, in using the expressions all workers and no officer or employee, puts no distinction between a probationary and a permanent or regular employee which means that both probationary and permanent employees enjoy security of tenure. Probationary employees enjoy security of tenure in the sense that during their probationary employment, they cannot be dismissed except for cause or for failure to qualify as regular employees.

The constitutional and statutory guarantee of security of tenure is extended to both those in the career and non-career service positions, and the cause under which an employee may be removed or suspended must naturally have some relation to the character or fitness of the officer or employee, for the discharge of the functions of his office, or expiration of the project for which the employment was extended.Further,well-entrenched is the rule on security of tenure that such an appointment is issued and the moment the appointee assumes a position in the civil service under a completed appointment, he acquires a legal, not merely equitable right (to the position), which is protected not only by statute, but also by the Constitution [Article IX-B, Section 2, paragraph (3)] and cannot be taken away from him either by revocation of the appointment, or by removal, except for cause, and with previous notice and hearing.

Mayor Benda dismissed Magnaye for lack of capacity and unsatisfactory conduct. While unsatisfactory conduct and want of capacity are valid causes that may be invoked for dismissal from the service, the CA observed that the Memorandum issued by Mayor Benda terminating Magnayes employment did not specify the acts constituting his want of capacity and unsatisfactory conduct.It merely stated that the character investigation conducted during his probationary period showed that his employment need not be necessary to be permanent in status. Mayor Bendas own assessment of Magnaye's performance could not have served as a sufficient basis to dismiss him because said mayor was not his immediate superior and did not have daily contacts with him. Additionally, Mayor Benda terminated his employment less than one and one-half months after his assumption to office.

Moreover, Magnaye was denied procedural due process when he received his notice of termination only a day before he was dismissed from the service. Evidently, he was effectively deprived of the opportunity to defend himself from the charge that he lacked the capacity to do his work and that his conduct was unsatisfactory. As well, during his appeal to the CSCRO-IV, he was not furnished with the submissions of Mayor Benda that he could have opposed.He was also denied substantive due process because he was dismissed from the service without a valid cause for lack of any factual or legal basis for his want of capacity and unsatisfactory conduct.