The Doctrine of Next-in-Rank Rule

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Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
I have been in the government service for almost seven years now. The position next to mine was vacated by reason of retirement of my colleague. I want to be enlightened about the Doctrine of Next-in-Rank Rule, which is frequently applied by the Civil Service Commission. Am I entitled for appointment to the vacated position by reason of the Doctrine of Next-in-Rank Rule?
Thank you very much.
Belinda

Dear Belinda,
The Doctrine of Next-in-Rank Rule can be found in Section 21 of Book VI, Title I, Subtitle A, Chapter 5 of Executive Order No. 292 or the Administrative Code of 1987, to wit:
“Section 21. Recruitment and Selection of Employees. –

(1) xxx

(2) When a vacancy occurs in a position in the first level of the Career Service as defined in Section 6, the employees in the department who occupy the next lower positions in the occupational group under which the vacant position is classified, and in other functionally related occupational groups and who are competent, qualified and with the appropriate civil service eligibility shall be considered for promotion.


(3) xxx” (Emphasis supplied)

In sum, the employees next-in-rank are those who occupy the next lower positions in the occupational group under which the vacant position is classified, and in other functionally related occupational groups, and who are competent, qualified and with the appropriate civil service eligibility.

However, this concept was further clarified by the Supreme Court in the case of Jaime T. Panis vs. Civil Service Commission and Bella V. Veloso (G.R. No. 102948, February 2, 1994) penned by Honorable former Associate Justice Camilo D. Quiason, to wit:

“The concept of “next in rank” does not impose any mandatory or peremptory requirement to appoint the person occupying the next lower position in the occupational group of the office. What the Civil Service Law and the Administrative Code of 1987 provide is that if a vacancy is filled up by the promotion, the person holding the position next in rank thereto “shall be considered for promotion” xxx. In other words, one who is “next in rank” to a vacancy is given preferential consideration for promotion to the vacant position, but it does not necessarily follow that he alone and no one else can be appointed. There is no vested right granted the next in rank nor a ministerial duty imposed on the appointing authority to promote the holder to the vacant position.” (Emphasis supplied)

Applying the foregoing in your case, you are merely given a preferential consideration to the vacated position in your office, but that doesn’t mean that no one else can be appointed. As pointed out by the Supreme Court in the aforementioned ruling, you don’t have a vested right over the vacated position by reason of next in rank nor a ministerial duty imposed on the appointing authority to promote you to the vacant position. The appointing authority may still exercise his/her discretion and is not bound by this rule.

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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