Mar 9, 2021 @ 8:25

CA: Marcoleta can’t get principal fired for helping depressed student attend graduation

The Court of Appeals (CA) has dismissed the petition of 1-SAGIP Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta seeking greater punishment for a Tarlac public school principal who helped a depressed student attend graduation rites even though her report card was withheld by her previous school because of unpaid fees.

In a recent 27-page decision, the CA Special 9th Division held that the prominent Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) member and ABS-CBN Corporation nemesis lacked legal standing to assail the Civil Service Commission’s (CSC) November 22, 2018 ruling that downgraded the penalty imposed on San Sebastian Elementary School (SSES) principal Alona Mallari.

The CSC only suspended Mallari for three months for the offense of simple misconduct, modifying the Department of Education’s (DepEd) August 31, 2017 resolution that dismissed her from service for grave misconduct.

It was Marcoleta who reported Mallari to the DepEd for trying to help a student whose Form 138 (report card) was withheld by her former school, Precious Child School, Inc. (PCSI), because her parents had unsettled accounts of P106,206.

Records showed that Mallari allowed the student to transfer to the public school even as PCSI refused to release her report card. Mallari also launched a fund-raising drive for the student.

On March 7, 2016, Mallari approached PCSI principal Aida Resurreccion to request the student’s report card while handing over P6,000 in cash and a post-dated check for P100,000. But PCSI demanded full payment in cash, which the student’s parents would not be able to raise before her graduation on March 29, 2016.

Because the student showed signs of depression, Mallari accompanied the parents in requesting Sol Cariaga, assistant superintendent of the Schools Division Tarlac City, to let her join the rites even if her name would not be included in the roster of graduates.

Marcoleta’s May 30, 2016 letter to the DepEd triggered an investigation by the DepEd Central Luzon office. The DepEd initially dismissed Mallari from her position, but the CSC downgraded her offense.

The CSC then denied due course to Marcoleta’s motion for reconsideration because as a private complainant, he was considered a mere witness to the case.

The CA agreed, stressing that the proper party to assail the CSC decision was the DepEd, since it was “government party charged with the prosecution of the case or the disciplining authority.”

It noted that “no private interest is involved in an administrative case as the offense committed is against the government,” not Marcoleta.

“Petitioner, who is considered as a mere witness, has no right to assail the Decision of the CSC since the right to appeal belongs to the government party charged with the prosecution of the case, or the disciplining authority of private respondent,” read the decision.

The decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 165348 was penned by Associate Justice Rafael Antonio Santos and concurred in by Associate Justices Elihu Ybañez and Bonifacio Pascua.

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