THE Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman that found two former commissioners of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) guilty of grave misconduct for their alleged unlawful implementation of the suspension order against an immigration officer.
In an 11-page decision penned by Associate Justice Louis Acosta and concurred in by Associate Justices Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla and Geraldine Fiel-Macaraig, the CA’s Special 13th Division upheld the January 26, 2016 ruling of the anti-graft body against former Commissioners Ricardo David Jr., and Siegfred Mison, ordering their dismissal from the service with all the necessary penalties. A co-respondent is BI head executive assistant Grace Lara.
Paulino Verzosa, an Immigration Alien Control Officer at the BI Laoag Field Office, accused David, Mison and Lara for grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct, conduct unbecoming of a public officer and oppression.
The case stemmed from Verzosa’s suspension on Nov. 13, 2007 for simple misconduct by former BI officials, prompting him to bring his case before the Manila Regional Trial Court of Manila in September 2010.
The court issued “a Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction directing the BI officials to desist from implementing the penalty of suspension upon complainant.”
In June 2013, the CSC granted Verzosa’s motion ordering his reinstatement pending his motion for reconsideration.
Instead of implementing the CSC resolution, David issued two personnel orders recalling the BI Order while he directed Verzosa to report to his mother unit, the Immigration Regulation Division, effectively relieving him as Acting Alien Control Officer at Laoag Field Office.
This prompted Verzosa to file a case before the Ombudsman which held that Verzosa’s suspension was a clear transgression of the Department of Justice (DoJ) department order 144 that required prior approval from the Secretary of Justice when effecting personnel actions in the bureau, which included suspension of BI employees.
The officials sought reconsideration but to no avail until they brought their case before the appeals court.
In its June 14, 2019 ruling released to media recently, the CA held that the petitioners’ bad faith was established when a personnel order was issued by them designating Verzosa’s replacement.
“Indubitably, petitioners acted unlawfully when they issued the assailed personnel orders that are contrary to the specific provisions of Department Order No. 144 and Memorandum dated 15 July 2010. The inaction of the Office of the Secretary of Justice will not exonerate the petitioners from administrative liability when their flagrant disregard of the law and established rule is evident,” the court said. JOMAR CANLAS