CA clears PNP officials of liability over ‘failure’ to act on Manila cop’s transfer request
The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the exoneration of two Philippine National Police (PNP) officials accused of failing to act on a Manila policeman’s request to be transferred to another unit, which he blamed for his absenteeism.
In a recent 9-page decision, the CA Special 7th Division denied the petition of Fernando Mamaril questioning the Civil Service Commission’s (CSC) October 5, 2018 order in favor of former PNP Western Visayas regional director Chief Superintendent Bernardo Diaz and Senior Superintendent Felipe Cazon, Jr., chief of the Regional Investigation and Detective Management Division of the SOCCSKSARGEN regional office.
When Mamaril filed his complaint for serious neglect of duty, Diaz and Cazon held the ranks of Senior Superintendent and Superintendent, respectively. They were his superiors when he was a member of the Manila Police District (MPD) Mobile Force.
Mamaril asked to be transferred to the MPD Community Relations Unit (D-5); he claimed that he would be allowed if he could find a replacement for his post and if he would be accommodated by the D-5.
Neither condition were met. He ended up being placed on absent without leave (AWOL) status from December 11, 2007 to March 2, 2008, and was thus suspended without pay for serious neglect of duty.
Blaming his superiors for what happened, Mamaril filed the administrative complaint before the National Police Commission (Napolcom). The Napolcom on January 8, 2013 dropped the case on the ground of res judicata because the Ombudsman on February 24, 2009 already dismissed a similar complaint by Mamaril. The CSC sustained the Napolcom’s action.
The CA agreed with the Napolcom and the CSC, rejecting Mamaril’s argument that the Ombudsman decision did not dismiss his first complaint on the merits but on the ground that he filed it as leverage in his own administrative case.
It said the Ombudsman decision clearly “explained that the procedure of transfer/swapping was not a matter of right” and that the police officials’ move not to grant the request cannot be held as whimsical or as abuse of authority
Even if Mamaril complained of different offenses (violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees before the Ombudsman and serious neglect of duty under the 2007 PNP Disciplinary Rules of Procedure before the Napolcom), the CA said there was still identity of action because both cases involved the same evidence and defenses.
“As can be gleaned from the record, the cause of action in both cases were based on the alleged denial of petitioner’s request by respondents,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas, Jr.
“Although lodged in different tribunals, both cases would require the same evidence to support and sustain their causes of action. Indubitably, both cases have the same causes of action, hence res judicata applies,” it added.
The CA also said a decision exonerating a public officer of administrative liability is unappealable.