Determining administrative liability

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Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
An administrative case was filed against my friend and it is for dishonesty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service. What does this mean? May we know how it is defined in the context of a government employee?
Sincerely yours,
Tresseme

Dear Tresseme,
The case of Angelica A. Fajardo vs. Mario J. Corral (G.R. No. 212641, July 5, 2017), penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam, seems to be responsive to your predicament. It stated:

“Dishonesty has been defined as the concealment or distortion of truth, which shows lack of integrity or a disposition to defraud, cheat, deceive or betray, or intent to violate the truth. Under CSC [Civil Service Commission] Resolution 06-0538, dishonesty may be classified as serious, less serious or simple. In this case, Fajardo was charged with serious dishonesty, which necessarily entails the presence of any one of the following circumstances:

(1) the dishonest act caused serious damage and grave prejudice to the government;


(2) the respondent gravely abused his authority in order to commit the dishonest act;

(3) where the respondent is an accountable officer, the dishonest act directly involves property, accountable forms or money for which he is directly accountable and the respondent shows an intent to commit material gain, graft and corruption;

(4) The dishonest act exhibits moral depravity on the part of respondent;

(5) The respondent employed fraud and/or falsification of official documents in the commission of the dishonest act related to his/her employment;

(6) The dishonest act was committed several times or in various occasions;

(7) The dishonest act involves a Civil Service examination irregularity or fake Civil Service eligibility such as, but not limited to impersonation, cheating and use of crib sheets; and,

(8) Other analogous circumstances.

Grave misconduct is defined as the transgression of some established and definite rule of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence by a public officer coupled with the elements of corruption, willful intent to violate the law or to disregard established rules. Corruption, as an element of grave misconduct, consists in the official or employee’s act of unlawfully or wrongfully using his position to gain benefit for one’s self. Lastly, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service deals with a demeanor of a public officer which “tarnished the image and integrity of his/her public office.”

xxx xxx xxx

Clearly, Fajardo’s acts constitute serious dishonesty for her dishonest act deals with money on her account; and that her failure to account for the shortage showed an intent to commit material gain, graft and corruption. Evidence of misappropriation of the missing funds is not required because the existence of shortage of funds and the failure to satisfactorily explain the same would suffice.

Grave misconduct was committed when Fajardo failed to keep and account for cash and cash items in her custody. It must be noted that she was issued a vault by the PCSO [Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office]and was bonded by the Bureau of Treasury for her to effectively carry out her duties and responsibilities. Yet, investigation conducted by the PCSO reveals that she failed to perform such duties when such funds on her account were reported missing. Her corrupt intention was evident in her failure to explain such missing funds despite reasonable opportunity to do the same.

Lastly, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service was committed because the acts of Fajardo tarnished the image of the PCSO, as the principal government agency for raising and providing funds for health programs, medical assistance and services and charities of national character, considering that aside from the shortage of funds, unpaid winning tickets dated 2004 were also found in Fajardo’s possession when she should have liquidated and replenished the same. The CA correctly held that the public would lose their trust in PCSO because of the reported misappropriation of funds, which are allotted as prizes.” (Emphasis supplied)
Undoubtedly in the foregoing, in the charges for serious dishonesty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service—the intent, acts, position of the offender/doer, and the effects of action are all taken into consideration, in order for one to be held administratively liable for the offenses as above-defined.

Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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