Negligence in filling out civil service forms; conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service

In Catipon v. Japson (G.R. No. 191787, June 22, 2015), a letter-complaint was filed with the Civil Service Commission Regional Director, alleging that petitioner made deliberate false entries in his Career Service Professional Examination (CSPE) application, specifically, that he obtained his college degree in 1993 when actually he graduated in 1995 only, after removing his deficiency of 1.5 units in Military Education; also, that petitioner was not qualified to take the CSPE examination in 1993 since he was not yet then a graduate of a four-year college course, contrary to the entry in his application form.[1]

The Supreme Court found petitioner to be negligent in filling out his CSPE application form and in failing to verify beforehand the specific requirements for the CSPE examination. Petitioner's claim of good faith and absence of deliberate intent or willful desire to defy or disregard the rules relative to the CSPE was held to be an invalid defense to exonerate him from the charge of conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. The Supreme Court emphasized that, under our legal system, ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith.[2]

Moreover, the High Court said that petitioner - as mere applicant for acceptance into the professional service through the CSPE - cannot expect to be served on a silver platter; the obligation to know what is required for the examination falls on him, and not the CSC or his colleagues in office.

In Bayaca v. Ramos[3], the Supreme Court found respondent judge guilty of both negligence and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service when he issued an arrest warrant despite the deletion of the penalty of imprisonment imposed on an accused in a particular criminal case. Respondent judge in the said case claimed that the issuance of the warrant was a mistake, done in good faith and that it has been a practice in his office for the Clerk of Court to study motions and that he would simply sign the prepared order. The Supreme Court rejected his defense and stated that negligence is the failure to observe such care as a reasonably prudent and careful person would use under ordinary circumstances. An act of the will is necessary deliberate intent to exist; such is not necessary in an act of negligence.

In Catipon v. Japson (G.R. No. 191787, June 22, 2015), petitioner failed to verify the requirements before filing his application to take the CSPE exam. He simply relied on his prior knowledge of the rules, particularly, that he could substitute his deficiency in Military Science with the length of his government service. He cannot lay blame on the personnel head of the SSS-Bangued, Abra, who allegedly did not inform him of the pertinent rules contained in Civil Service Memorandum Circular No. 42, Series of 1991. For, if he were truly a reasonably prudent and careful person, petitioner himself should have verified from the CSC the requirements imposed on prospective examinees. In so doing, he would certainly have been informed of the new CSC policy disallowing substitution of one's length of government service for academic deficiencies. Neither should petitioner have relied on an unnamed Civil Service employee's advice since it was not shown that the latter was authorized to give information regarding the examination nor that said employee was competent and capable of giving correct information. His failure to verify the actual CSPE requirements which a reasonably prudent and careful person would have done constitutes negligence. Though his failure was not a deliberate act of the will, such is not necessary in an act of negligence and, as in the Bayaca case, negligence is not inconsistent with a finding of guilt for conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.[4]


[1] Catipon v. Japson, G.R. No. 191787, June 22, 2015.

[2] Civil Code, Article 3.

[3] A.M. No. MTJ-07-1676, January 29, 2009.

[4] Catipon v. Japson, G.R. No. 191787, June 22, 2015.

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