BONTOC, Mountain Province – The 1st Division of the Court of Appeals (CA) affirmed the earlier decision of the regional and central offices of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) dismissing the initial batch of faculty members of the State-run Mountain Province State Polytechnic College (MPSPC) for their involvement in the July 1, 2011 siege that nearly toppled the leadership of former MPSPC president Dr. Nieves A. Dacyon.
In a 10-page decision signed by Associate Justices Andres B. Reyes, Jr., Romeo F. Barza and Agnes Reyes-Carpio released on November 23, 2016, the appellate court also upheld the imposition of the accessory penalties of forfeiture of retirement benefits, except for leave credits, perpetual disqualification from holding public office and barred from taking the civil service examination against Terence Lief F. Fangasan, who was one of the twelve MPSPC faculty members that instigated the failed siege in the government educational institution.
“We find that the assailed decision, both of the CSC central office and CSC-CAR, made a thorough discussion on petitioner’s participation on the strike, and which cannot be simply be categorized as speculative,” the decision stated.
The CA added that it should be noted that the affidavits of Fang-asan’s witnesses were not excluded since they were taken, calibrated and weighed vis-à-vis the pieces of evidence presented by Dacyon.
Negating Fang-asan’s argument that there was no strike in the said case, the decision noted that classes and work were disrupted and the campus was even transferred from Bontoc to Tadian and at the same time, Fang-asan cannot invoke that they are merely exercising their constitutional right to association or free expression since there are already jurisprudence relative to the said instances that transpired in the institution.
According to the decision, Fangasan’s exoneration in a criminal case for grave coercion before the Municipal Trial Court in the capital town has no bearing in the administrative cases filed against him since the case was dismissed due to insufficiency of evidence and in criminal cases, the quantum of evidence is guilt beyond reasonable doubt while in administrative cases, mere substantial evidence is sufficient.
“In the hierarchy of evidentiary values, substantial evidence is the lowest standard of proof provided under the rules of court,” the decision added.
On Fang-asan’s contention that the penalty of dismissal is too harsh considering that he is a breadwinner, a married man and has been in the service for 13 years, the CA ruled the law is solicitous to everyone regardless of his station in life but to merely invoke being a breadwinner and a family man would open the floodgates to abuse, to the detriment of the public service.
The decision pointed Fang-asan’s length of service cannot be considered mitigating as he is found guilty of grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and insubordination.
The CA explained grave misconduct is punishable with dismissal, while conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service is punishable with suspension or dismissal. On the other hand, insubordination is punishable by suspension.
In imposing the proper penalty, the CA emphasized the revised rules on administrative cases in the civil service provides if the respondent is found guilty of two or more charges or counts, the penalty to be imposed should be corresponding to the most serious charge and the rest shall be considered as aggravating circumstances.
In the said case, the CA upheld that grave misconduct is the most serious offense, punishable with dismissal and it is likewise aggravated by two offenses which are of grave nature as well, thus, there is no way by which the penalty imposed could be lowered as being prayed by Fang-asan.
Fang-asan’s other companions in leading the failed siege have made separate appeals before the appealed court after their respective motions for reconsideration were junked by the CSC central office over the past several months.
Concerned residents of the province claimed the dismissed MPSPC faculty members were simply used by an official to advance his intention of ousting Dacyon from office because of obvious personal and political reasons, thus, he allegedly bankrolled the planning and operationalization of the failed siege which did not actual materialize.
Mountain Province residents are now challenging the official that used the embattled faculty members to be the one to provide for the needs of the dismissed workers because if not for his greed for power and his desire to control the institution, the failed siege could not have happened and the institution could have been spared from humiliation.