Tuesday 23 October, 2018
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CA affirms: SBMA manager stays after solicitation complainant fails to pursue case

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The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed that a Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) manager could not be dismissed from service because the complainant who accused him of solicitation failed to pursue the case.

In a recent 8-page decision, the CA Special 11th Division sustained the Civil Service Commission’s (CSC) August 12, 2016 decision to reverse the SBMA’s November 26, 2015 dismissal of Raymund Gil Siongco, manager of the SBMA Business and Investment Department for Logistics.

The case arose from the complaint of Ace Pilots Aviation Academy, Inc. (APAAI) director Anand Patel accusing Siongco of soliciting P280,000 in exchange for approving the school’s lease application.

But, Patel repeatedly failed to appear in the hearings conducted by the SBMA Disciplinary Action Committee (DAC). Instead, the SBMA cited the statement of special investigator Teophanie Reutotar as basis for dismissing Siongco.

The CA agreed with the CSC that the SBMA could not rely only on Patel’s complaint and Reutotar’s hearsay statement that claimed Patel had confirmed the veracity of the complaint.

Although administrative bodies are not bound by technical rules of procedure, the CA said this rule “cannot be taken as a license to disregard fundamental rules of evidence that assure the authenticity and credibility of evidence.”

The court stressed that complaints have to be “excluded from the proceedings for being inadmissible and hearsay” if the complainants failed to take the witness stand to affirm its veracity.

“While this is an administrative case, the acts alleged to have been committed by Siongco may also be criminal in nature. With more reason that Siongco’s rights should assiduously be protected,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Pablito Perez.

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