May a government employee be put on preventive suspension pending his administrative complaint before the Civil Service?
An employee against whom an administrative complaint is filed before the Civil Service Commission (CSC) may be put on preventive suspension pending the determination of his case. This preventive suspension is not a form of penalty. It is merely a measure of precaution so that the official or employee charged may be removed from the scene of his/her alleged misfeasance/malfeasance while the same is being investigated (Section 25, Rule 7, Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service). Moreover, it is allowed to remove the possibility of the respondent impeding the normal course of the investigation through the use of his influence and authority over the possible witnesses (Espiritu vs. Melgar, G.R. No. 100874, February 13, 1992 citing Lacson vs. Roque, 92 Phil. 456).
Section 26, Rule 7 of the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service enumerates the instances when a preventive suspension order may be issued, to wit:
“Section 26. When issued; Grounds. – Upon petition of the complainant or motu propio, the proper disciplining authority may issue an order of preventive suspension upon service of the formal charge or notice of charge/s, or immediately thereafter to any subordinate officer or employee under his/her authority pending an investigation if
A. The charge involves: 1) dishonesty; 2) oppression; 3) grave misconduct; 4) neglect in the performance of duty; 5) administrative offenses which are punishable by dismissal from the service on its second or third offense; or 6) if there are reasons to believe that the respondent is guilty of the charges which would warrant his/her removal from the service.
B. An order of preventive suspension may be issued to temporarily remove the respondent from the scene of his/her misfeasance, malfeasance or nonfeasance to preclude the possibility of: 1) exerting undue influence or pressure on the witnesses against him/her, or 2) tampering with evidence that may be used against him/her.
C. In lieu of preventive suspension, for the same purpose, the proper disciplining authority or head of office, may reassign respondent to other unit of the agency during the formal hearings.”
The said law states that unless otherwise provided by law, the respondent-employee may be placed under preventive suspension for a maximum period of ninety (90) days in the case of national agencies or sixty (60) days in the case of local government units. However, when the administrative case against the employee is not finally decided within the period of preventive suspension, he shall be automatically reinstated in the service unless the delay in the disposition of the case is due to the fault, negligence or petition of the respondent, in which case, the period of delay shall not be included in the counting of the period of preventive suspension.
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