Mar 17, 2021 @ 8:57

CA overturns dismissal of PNU employee who processed $25K payment for unauthorized magazine ad

The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the reinstatement of the former budget office head of state-run Philippine Normal University (PNU), saying the Ombudsman erred in dismissing her from the service for processing the $25,000 payment for an advertorial that was not authorized by the Board of Regents.

In a 9-page decision on CA-G.R. SP No. 155894 dated March 10, the CA 12th Division set aside the Ombudsman’s August 18, 2017 ruling that found Florence Allejos guilty of the administrative offense of grave misconduct.

Allejos’s dismissal was triggered by a complaint by former Financial Management Services director Harry Huliganga about a half-page advertorial to be published in Foreign Policy magazine in 2011.

University president Ester Ogena directly negotiated with published Universal News Ltd. for the publication of the advertorial without authority from the Board of Regents.

The court found that Allejos’s participation was limited to signing the box in the Budget Utilization Request (BUR) stating that “Budget is available and earmarked/utilized for the purpose as indicative above.”

This was after certification by Vice-President for Finance, Administration and Development Rebecca Corpuz Nueva España that the charges were “necessary, lawful and under my direct supervision” and supporteed by documents.

“It was only after she received [BURs] for her certification on the availability of funds that she became involved. It is likewise worth noting that these were processed at España’s office and with Box ‘A’ already signed by the latter,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Dantono Bueser.

The CA noted that absent evidence to the contrary, the BURs were “presumed to have been regularly prepared by España’s office.” Hence, it found no misconduct on Allejos’s part.

It stressed that the Ombudsman failed to show clear and convincing evidence that Allejos signed the BURs “due to corruption, willful intent to violate the law or persistent disregard of well-known legal rules.”

“Any transaction relating to the advertorial contract was consummated at España’s office. Allejos had no participation and therefore, should not be held accountable for misconduct,” the court concluded.

Criminal charges for graft were pending against Allejos, Ogena, Nueva España, and Financial Management Services director Joseph Luceño are currently pending in the Sandiganbayan.

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