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H. Liabilities of public officers

1. Preventive suspension and back salaries

a. PREVENTIVE SUSPENSION

The proper disciplining authority may preventively suspend any subordinate officer or employee under his authority pending an investigation, if the charge against such officer or employee involves:

1) Dishonesty;

2) Oppression;

3) Grave misconduct;

4) Neglect in the performance of duty; or

5) If there are reasons to believe that the respondent is guilty of charges which would warrant his removal from the service. (Section 51, Chapter 6, Title I-A, Book V, E.O. 292, Administrative Code; Section 41, P.D. 807, Civil Service Decree)

1) Lifting of preventive suspension pending administrative investigation

When the administrative case against the officer or employee under preventive suspension is not finally decided by the disciplining authority within the period of ninety (90) days after the date of suspension of the respondent who is not a presidential appointee, the respondent shall be automatically reinstated in the service: Provided, That when the delay in the disposition of the case is due to the fault, negligence or petition of the respondent, the period of delay shall not be counted in computing the period of suspension herein provided. (Section 52, Chapter 6, Title I-A, Book V, Ibid.)

b. BACK SALARIES

GENERAL RULE: Under the the “no work-no pay” principle, public officials are only entitled to compensation if they render service. (CSC v. Cruz, En Banc, G.R. No. 187858, 09 August 2011)

EXCEPTION: Back salaries may be awarded even for unworked days to illegally dismissed or unjustly suspended employees. (Ibid.)

RATIONALE: This is based on the constitutional provision that “no officer or employee in the civil service shall be removed or suspended except for cause provided by law”; to deny these employees their back salaries amounts to unwarranted punishment after they have been exonerated from the charge that led to their dismissal or suspension. (Ibid.)

2. Illegal dismissal, reinstatement, and back salaries

a. ILLEGAL DISMISSAL

No officer or employee of the civil service shall be removed or suspended except for cause provided by law. (Section 2[1], Part B, Article IX, 1987 Constitution)

b. REINSTATEMENT

Any person who has been permanently appointed to a position in the career service and who has, through no delinquence or misconduct, been separated therefrom, may be reinstated to a position in the same level for which he is qualified. (Section 26[4], Chapter 5, Title I-A, Book V, E.O. 292, Administrative Code; Section 41, P.D. 807, Civil Service Decree)

1) Acquittal

Under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, if the public official or employee is acquitted of the criminal charge/s specified in the law, he is entitled to reinstatement and the back salaries withheld during his suspension, unless in the meantime administrative proceedings have been filed against him. (CSC v. Cruz, En Banc, G.R. No. 187858, 09 August 2011)

c. BACK SALARIES

GENERAL RULE: Under the the “no work-no pay” principle, public officials are only entitled to compensation if they render service. (CSC v. Cruz, En Banc, G.R. No. 187858, 09 August 2011)

EXCEPTION: Back salaries may be awarded even for unworked days to illegally dismissed or unjustly suspended employees. (Ibid.)

RATIONALE: This is based on the constitutional provision that “no officer or employee in the civil service shall be removed or suspended except for cause provided by law”; to deny these employees their back salaries amounts to unwarranted punishment after they have been exonerated from the charge that led to their dismissal or suspension. (Ibid.)

1) Requisites

These are the two (2) conditions before an employee may be entitled to back salaries:

1) The employee must be found innocent of the charges; and,

2) His suspension must be unjustified. (CSC v. Cruz, En Banc, G.R. No. 187858, 09 August 2011)

The reasoning behind these conditions runs this way: although an employee is considered under preventive suspension during the pendency of a successful appeal, the law itself only authorizes preventive suspension for a fixed period; hence, his suspension beyond this fixed period is unjustified and must be compensated. (CSC v. Cruz, En Banc, G.R. No. 187858, 09 August 2011)

2) The 5-year limit

An illegally dismissed civil service employee is entitled to back salaries but limited only to a maximum period of five (5) years, and not full back salaries from his illegal dismissal up to his reinstatement. (Republic v. Pacheco, En Banc, G.R. No. 178021, 25 January 2012)

c. REMOVAL OF ADMINISTRATIVE PENALTIES OR DISABILITIES

In meritorious cases and upon recommendation of the Commission, the President may commute or remove administrative penalties or disabilities imposed upon officers or employees in disciplinary cases, subject to such terms and conditions as he may impose in the interest of the service. (Section 53, Chapter 6, Title I-A, Book V, Ibid.)

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