Supreme Court affirms termination of 11 Defense officials

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THE Supreme Court (SC) has affirmed the termination of services of former Assistant Secretary Emmanuel Feliciano and Horacio Gonzalez, then chief of the Administrative Service Office, both of the Department of National Defense (DND), and several others.

In a ruling penned by Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin and concurred in by Associate Justices Marvic Leonen, Samuel Martires, Presbitero Velasco Jr. and Alexander Gesmundo, the SC’s Third Division upheld a decision promulgated by the Court of Appeals (CA) on October 3, 2011, and its decision on October 12, 2011, concerning the validity of the petitioners’ termination.

The SC ordered the petitioners “to pay the respective costs of suit.”

The same verdict was handed down last November 8 but was released only recently.


On June 30, 2010, then-Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa issued Memorandum Circular No. 1, providing, “All non-career executive service officials [non-CESO] occupying career executive service [CES] positions in all agencies of the executive branch shall remain in office and continue to perform their duties and discharge their responsibilities until July 31, 2010 or until their resignations have been accepted and/or their respective replacements have been appointed or designated, whichever comes first.”

Then-Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin issued a department order firing 11 officials of the DND, including Gonzalez, on account of their lack of career executive service eligibility (CESE).

Feliciano was redesignated as assistant secretary for strategic assessment of the agency.

Subsequently, on July 13, 2010, he received another order terminating his designation and services as assistant secretary for strategic assessment.

Aggrieved, the petitioners filed their respective appeals by letters-complaint before the Civil Service Commission (CSC) on the ground of illegal termination.

On appeal, the CSC declared the DND’s order as not valid until the case was brought before the CA’s Fourteenth Division, which declared their termination as valid because they lacked the required qualifications to secure their positions until the case reached the High Court.

“Without the CESE, they were not entitled to security of tenure. In the CES, the attainment of security of tenure presupposes a permanent appointment,” the SC said.

“In that regard, and as opined in General v. Roco, two requisites must concur in order that an employee in the CES could attain security of tenure, namely: [1] the CESE; and [2] the appointment to the appropriate CES rank.”

The court opined that the petitioners were undisputedly not yet holders of CESE.

“The effect is that their appointments remained temporary, a status that denied them security of tenure.”

JOMAR CANLAS

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