SC: Ouster of EARIST president who reached retirement age improper

The Supreme Court (SC) has held that the 2006 revocation of the appointment of Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Technology (EARIST) president Maura Bautista, who had reached retirement age, was improper.

In a recent 12-page decision, the SC 2nd Division ordered EARIST to pay Bautista’s salary from April 19, 2006 to December 2007, as well as P50,000 in exemplary damages and P20,000 in attorney’s fees. It also imposed a legal interest of 6% from the finality of the decision.

The SC denied EARIST’s petition questioning the October 14, 2008 and February 28, 2012 decisions of the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 41 and the Court of Appeals (CA) in favor of Bautista.

Records showed that Bautista on September 5, 2003 was reappointed to a four-year term from December 16, 2003 to December 17, 2007.

Upon reaching the age of 65 in 2005, Bautista was offered a retirement benefit by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). But she continued to occupy her office and never submitted a resignation letter.

On April 19, 2006, the board of trustees (BOT) led by chair Nona Ricafort approved an unnumbered resolution that deemed Bautista to have mandatorily retired from service.

The SC agreed with the CA that there was nothing irregular with Bautista’s reappointment in 2003 because it was in conformity with the Higher Education Modernization Act of 1997. Hence, the BOT erred in believing that she was automatically terminated upon reaching the age of 65.

The SC added that the BOT displayed an “abuse of power” when it excluded Bautista from the conference room that led to the appointment of Enrique Hilario as officer-in-charge in her stead. It said this denied Bautista’s right to due process.

The decision was penned by Associate Justice Henri Jean Paul Inting.

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