G.R. No. 173590 : December 9, 2013




De Guzman was charged for dishonesty and conduct grossly prejudicial to the best interest as Postal Inspector at the Postal Services Office and eventually was relieved from his post

Since the Postal Services Office was then a line-agency of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), the charge against De Guzman was forwarded to the Investigation Security and Law Enforcement Staff (ISLES). However, the ISLES, through a Memorandum, Director Reyes recommended that De Guzman be exonerated from the charges against him due to lack of merit. The said recommendation was later approved by DOTC Asst. Secretary Jardiniano.

RA 7354 orthe Postal Service Act of 1992, was passed. Pursuant thereto, the Postal Services Office under the DOTC was abolished, and all its powers, duties, and rights were transferred to the PPC.Likewise, officials and employees of the Postal Services Office were absorbed by the PPC.

Subsequently, De Guzman, who had by then become Chief Postal Service Officer, was formally charged and later on found guilty byPPC, for the same acts of dishonesty, gross violation of regulations, and conduct grossly prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and the Anti-graft law thereby dismissing him from service.

He filed a motion for reconsideration but was denied. A second MR was filed which was resolved in his favour although he was found guilty of the charges, since the complainant was the PPC, which had its own charter and was no longer under the DOTC. Thus, the ISLES Memorandum which endorsed his exoneration and dismissal of the complaints against him was merely recommendatory. As such, the filing of the formal charge was an obvious rejection of said recommendation.

De Guzmans motion for reconsideration was denied initially but the motion was, at the same time, considered as an appeal to the PPC Board of Directors. Thus, in a Resolution dated May 10, 2005, PG Rama pointed out that, being the third MR filed by De Guzman, the same was in gross violation of the rules of procedure recognized by the PPC, as well as of the Civil Service Commission (CSC), which both allowed only one (1) such motion to be entertained.It was further held thatres judicatawas unavailing as the decision exonerating De Guzman was ―only a ruling after a fact-finding investigation. Hence, the same could not be considered as a dismissal on the merits but rather, a dismissal made by an investigative body which was not clothed with judicial or quasi-judicial power.

Meanwhile, before the issuance of the Resolution dated May 10, 2005, De Guzman elevated his case on March 12, 2005 to the CA via a special civil action forcertiorariandmandamus.

OnJune 10, 2005, De Guzman appealedthe Resolution dated May 10, 2005 before the PPC Board. Almost a year later, the Board issued a Resolution denying the appeal and affirming with finality his dismissal from service. The motion for reconsideration subsequently filed was likewise denied.

OnApril 4, 2006, the CA reversed the PPC Resolutions. It held that the revival of the case against De Guzman constituted grave abuse of discretion considering the clear and unequivocal content of the Memorandum duly signed by Asec. Jardiniano that the complaint against De Guzman was already dismissed.

Aggrieved, PPC moved for reconsideration which was, however, denied hence, the instant petition.

Meanwhile, on July 26, 2006, De Guzman filed an appeal of the PPC Boards Resolutions with the CSCwhich was, however, dismissed.


Whether De Guzman unjustifiably failed to exhaust the administrative remedies available to him;

Whether De Guzman engaged in forum-shopping; and

Whether the investigation conducted by the DOTC, through the ISLES, bars the filing of the subsequent charges by PPC.

HELD: The Petition is meritorious.

POLITICAL LAW - Exhaustion of administrative remedies.

PPC claims that De Guzman failed to subscribe to the rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies since he opted to file a premature certiorari case before the CA instead of filing an appeal with the PPC Board, or of an appeal to the CSC, which are adequate remedies under the law.

This remedy of appeal to the Board is reiterated in Section 2(a), Rule II of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures of the PPC, that the decision of the Board of Directors in removing officials and employees from service is appealable to the Civil Service Commission. It is well-established that the CSC has jurisdiction over all employees of government branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities, and agencies, including government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters, and, as such, is the sole arbiter of controversies relating to the civil service. Olanda v. Bugayong, 491 Phil. 626, 632 (2003),

The PPC, created under RA 7354, is a government-owned and controlled corporation with an original charter. Thus, being an employee of the PPC, De Guzman should have, after availing of the remedy of appeal before the PPC Board, sought further recourse before the CSC.

An appeal from an order denying a motion for reconsideration of a final order or judgment is effectively an appeal from the final order or judgment itself.Thus, finding no cogent explanation on De Guzmans end or any justifiable reason for his premature resort to a petition for certiorari and mandamus before the CA, the Court holds that he failed to adhere to the rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies which should have warranted the dismissal of said petition. Alma Jose v. Javellana, G.R. No. 158239, January 25, 2012.

REMEDIAL LAW - Forum-shopping

Aside from violating the rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies, De Guzman was also guilty of forum-shopping by pursuing two (2) separate remedies petition forcertiorariand appeal that have long been held to be mutually exclusive, and not alternative or cumulative remedies. Young v. Sy, 534 Phil. 246, (2006).

It should be pointed out that De Guzman was bound by his certification with the CA that if he ―should thereafter learn that a similar action or proceeding has been filed or is pending before the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, or any other tribunal or agency, he undertakes to report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the Honorable Court. Nothing, however, appears on record that De Guzman had informed the CA of his subsequent filing of a notice of appeal before the PPC from the Resolution dated May 10, 2005. By failing to do so, De Guzman committed a violation of his certification against forum-shopping with the CA, which has been held to be a ground for dismissal of an action distinct from forum-shopping itself.

While De Guzman did inform the CSC that he previously filed a petition forcertiorariwith the CA, hefailed to disclose the fact that the CA had already rendered a decision thereon resolving the issue ofres judicata,which was the very same issue before the CSC.

The Court emphasizes strict adherence to the rules against forum-shopping, and this case is no exception. Based on the foregoing, the CA should have then dismissed the petition for certiorari filed by De Guzman not only for being violative of the rule on exhaustion of administrative remedies but also due to forum-shopping.

REMEDIAL LAW - Res judicata

The investigation conducted by the ISLES, which "provides, performs, and coordinates security, intelligence, fact-finding, and investigatory functions for the Secretary, the Department, and Department-wide official undertakings,"was intended precisely for the purpose of determining whether or not aprima faciecase against De Guzman existed. Due to insufficiency of evidence, however, no formal charge was filed against De Guzman and the complaint against him was dismissed by Asst. Secretary Jardiniano.

In order thatres judicatamay bar the institution of a subsequent action, the following requisites must concur: (a) the former judgment must be final; (b) it must have been rendered by a court having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; (c) it must be a judgment on the merits; and (d) there must be between the first and the second actions (i) identity of parties, (ii) identity of subject matter, and (iii) identity of cause of action.

A judgment may be considered as one rendered on the merits when it determines the rights and liabilities of the parties based on the disclosed facts, irrespective of formal, technical or dilatory objections; or when the judgment is rendered after a determination of which party is right, as distinguished from a judgment rendered upon some preliminary or formal or merely technical point.Encinas v. Agustin, Jr., G.R. No. 187317, April 11, 2013.

In this case, there was no judgment on the merits, the dismissal of the complaint against De Guzman in the Memorandum of Asec. Jardiniano wasa result of a fact-finding investigation only for purposes of determining whether aprima faciecase exists and a formal charge for administrative offenses should be filed. This being the case, no rights and liabilities of the parties were determined therein with finality.

Hence, the Court holds that PPC did not gravely abuse its discretion when it revived the case against De Guzman despite the previous dismissal thereof by Asec. Jardiniano. Since said dismissal was not a judgment on the merits, the doctrine ofres judicatadoes not apply.

In fine, due to the errors of the CA as herein detailed, the Court hereby grants the present petition and accordingly reverses and sets aside the farmer's dispositions. The Resolutions dated November 23, 2004 and January 6, 2005 of the PPC ordering De Guzman's dismissal from the service are thus reinstated.

The petition is granted.