The Supreme Court (SC) has empowered the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) by giving its chief and lawyers special rank of and salary enjoyed by a prosecutor of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
This came about after the High Court junked a petition filed by the Career Executive Service Board (CESB) against the Civil Service Commission (CSC) covering the officials of PAO.
In a 33-page decision penned by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the SC en banc ruled to dismiss the petition for certiorari and prohibition for lack of merit.
It affirmed the questioned issuance of the CSC under Decision 110067 and Resolution 1100719 dated February 15, 2011 and June 1, 2011, respectively.
The dispute concerns the classification of certain positions of PAO, including the position of PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta, along with its deputies and regional public attorneys.
The SC was petitioned by the CESB in order to determine whether the positions are properly included in the Career Executive Service (CES) and whether the occupants of these positions must obtain third-level eligibility to qualify for permanent appointment.
Also, the SC was asked whether the positions are considered part of the CES and be declassified.
The SC ruled that the CSC committed no grave abuse of discretion when it ruled in favor of PAO officers and
It said the agency’s lawyers should be treated like members of the National Prosecution Service (NPS).
“To fulfill the legislative intent to accord equal treatment to senior officials of the PAO and the NPS, parity in their qualification for appointment must be maintained. Accordingly, the revived qualifications of those in the NPS must also be considered applicable to those in the PAO,” the decision read.
Also, the SC said the CSC may properly review decisions reached by the CESB, an agency attached to it.
“The CESB effectively amended the law when it required that the PAO officials obtain third-level eligibility before they could become permanent as this requirement is not provided in the law,” it added.