• Unwed mother can’t be charged with immorality

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    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    There is this woman in our province. She works in a government hospital. She got herself pregnant twice without a husband. I think the hospital is condoning this employee in her disgraceful and immoral conduct because they have not penalized her. In fact, she still works there which I think is unfair and unjust. I have read that there is a civil service rule (Memorandum Circular No. 15, Series of 2010) that penalizes disgraceful and immoral conduct. Can I file a complaint against her?
    Lov

    Dear Lov,
    You are correct in stating that the Civil Service Commission (CSC) has issued Memorandum Circular No. 15, Series of 2010, which penalizes disgraceful and immoral conduct of government employees. However, we believe that emphasis should be made on what comprises “disgraceful and immoral conduct” under the said directive. Pursuant to Section 1 thereof, “disgraceful and immoral conduct” is defined as “an act which violates the basic norm of decency, morality and decorum abhorred and condemned by the society. It refers to conduct which is willful, flagrant or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the opinions of the good and respectable members of the society.”

    Accordingly, the mere fact that a female government employee has given birth to two children out of wedlock does not necessarily mean that the same constitutes as disgraceful and immoral conduct. To be considered as “disgraceful and immoral,” the action/s of the questioned government employee must contravene morality and the same must have been done intentionally. To conclude that the female government employee you have mentioned is committing or has committed “disgraceful and immoral conduct,” based only on the facts which you have shared, is rather stretching the law beyond its true purpose.

    Furthermore, Section 3 of the said CSC issuance provides that “[U]nmarried government employees who do not have existing legal impediments to contract marriage may not be liable for the administrative offense of Disgraceful and Immoral Conduct unless the conduct consists of immoral and deviant acts of which are inherently forbidden by the basic norms of decency, morality and decorum such as, but not limited to incest, pedophilia, exhibitionism and the like.”

    Consequently, the female government employee you mentioned may not be held administratively liable if she is unmarried and has no legal impediments to contract a marriage, unless, as mentioned above, her conduct is inherently forbidden by the basic norms of decency, morality and decorum.

    Lastly, all the surrounding facts must be considered. In one administrative case, the CSC exonerated the respondent from the charges against her for disgraceful and immoral conduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service when it considered all the facts attending thereto. According to the CSC, “x x x Although the act of bearing a child outside a lawful marriage is frowned upon, respondent cannot be made to perpetually suffer the same when the incidents surrounding her case is not of her own doing. She did not abandon her duties and responsibilities as part of the union she forged with Rio Lacsamana. Instead, she was the one abandoned and left to look after herself. Further, she tried to rectify whatever wrong she had committed by removing all the legal impediments in her married life in accordance with law in order for her to be given a chance to finally enjoy the full benefits of marriage. x x x” (Resolution No. 992643 Aniceta B. Lacsamana Re: Disgraceful and Immoral Conduct, Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service)

    We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

    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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