Jul 14, 2021 @ 13:42

SC affirms Palace’s implementation of dismissal of CHR exec who pocketed employee’s salary hike

The Supreme Court (SC) has thrown out the petition of Commissioner on Human Rights (CHR) Commissioner Cecilia Rachel “Coco” Quisumbing against the Office of the President’s (OP) implementation of the Ombudsman order dismissing her for promoting an employee to pocket her salary increase.

In a 12-page decision on G.R. No. 214407, the SC 1st Division rejected Quisumbing’s contention that the Ombudsman’s August 28, 2014 dismissal order should not have been implemented right away because her motion for reconsideration (MR) was pending at the time.

The Ombudsman found her guilty of grave misconduct and violation of Section 7(d) of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
This was triggered by the complaint of staff member Ma. Regina Eugenio that Quisumbing offered her a promotion on the condition that her responsibilities would remain the same and that the boss would keep the salary increase as part of the “CRVQ Office Fund.” Acknowledgment receipts proved that the differentials did go to Quisumbing from January to July 2013.

Records showed that while Quisumbing’s MR was pending before the Ombudsman, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa on September 24, 2014 issued a memorandum directing CHR Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales to implement the dismissal order. On October 1, 2014, Rosales issued a memorandum stating that Quisumbing’s dismissal would take effect immediately.

Quisumbing argued that the Ombudsman did not yet issue an order to implement the resolution and that Ochoa and Rosales thus committed an undue encroachment upon the Ombudsman’s power to enforce its own rulings.

But, the SC noted that Section 7 of Rule III of the Ombudsman Rules of Procedure provides that administrative decisions “shall be executed as a matter of course.” Meanwhile, Memorandum Circular No. 1, series of 2006, states that the filing of an MR “does not operate to stay the immediate implementation of the foregoing Ombudsman decisions, orders or resolutions.”

“Contrary to Quisumbing’s assertion, the Ombudsman need not issue a separate order for the implementation of its August 28, 2014 Joint Resolution, precisely because the Ombudsman Rules of Procedure already ordain the immediate implementation thereof,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Samuel Gaerlan.

“Since the Joint Resolution is immediately executory, respondents did not commit grave abuse of discretion when they issued the assailed memoranda. In fact, they were simply following the law and giving due respect to the orders of the Ombudsman,” it added.

The SC also pointed out that Quisumbing resorted to the wrong legal remedy, because she should have challenged the Ombudsman’s later denial of her MR on November 11, 2014 before the Court of Appeals (CA) as provided by Rule 43 of the Rules of Court.

The SC ignored Quisumbing’s attempt to make her case a constitutional issue. Quisumbing had argued that the OP trampled upon the independence of the CHR when Ochoa directed Rosales to implement her dismissal, but the SC’s decision did not address this point at all.

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