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Digest: Philippine Retirement Authority v. Rupa (363 SCRA 480, 2001)

Digest: Philippine Retirement Authority v. Rupa (363 SCRA 480, 2001)

Facts: The case at bar stems from a complaint filed with the Civil Service Commission (CSC) by ATTY. VERNETTE UMALI-PACO, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of petitioner PRA against her subordinate, respondent THELMA RUPA, PRA Human Resource Management Officer III, for four (4) offenses: Insubordination, Gross Misconduct, Conduct Prejudicial to the Service and Neglect of Duty.

The CSC found respondent guilty of the grave offense of Conduct Grossly Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service solely for neglecting to promptly process the requests of the two (2) Indian retirees. She was meted the penalty of one (1) year suspension without pay. The CSC absolved the respondent from the other charges.

The respondent moved for reconsideration. She contended that her neglect in the performance of her duties was not grossly prejudicial to the best interest of the service. In the alternative, she argued that her suspension from service for one year without pay is excessive and harsh. Thus, she prayed that her suspension be reduced to one month.

The CSC denied her motion. It upheld the penalty meted out to her, i.e., one year suspension without pay, as it is in accordance with the Schedule of Penalties provided under Section 22 (t) of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of the Administrative Code of 1987.4

The respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals. On July 19, 1999, the Court of Appeals modified the appealed CSC Resolution. It found the respondent guilty of the less grave offense of simple neglect of duty and imposed on her the lesser penalty of three (3) months suspension without pay


Ruling: The CSC found that the respondent's act constitutes the grave offense of Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, while the Court of Appeals held it to be only a case of Simple Neglect of Duty, a less grave offense under the Civil Service Rules.

Under the Civil Service law and rules, there is no concrete description of what specific acts constitute the grave offense of Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service. Jurisprudence, however, is instructive on this point. The Court has considered the following acts or omissions, inter alia, as Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service: misappropriation of public funds, abandonment of office, failure to report back to work without prior notice,6 failure to safe keep public records and property, making false entries in public documents and falsification of court orders.

Gross Neglect of Duty, on the other hand, denotes a flagrant and culpable refusal or unwillingness of a person to perform a duty. The Court has categorized the following as constitutive of the grave offense of Gross Neglect of Duty: negligence in the prosecution of cases and malicious delay in the administration of justice by a police officer, act of provincial warden in retaining a prisoner in his custody without authority and just cause instead of sending him to the Muntinlupa penitentiary, failure to transcribe stenographic notes of 18 cases which dated as far back as 1972, failure of a judge to decide a case within a period fixed by law, and exerting undue influence by a deputy clerk of court on a judge in the disposition of cases pending before the court.

Simple Neglect of Duty, however, signifies a disregard of a duty resulting from carelessness or indifference. The Court has decided the following, inter alia, as constituting the less grave offense of Simple Neglect of Duty: delay in the transmittal of court records,delay in responding to written queries, and delay of more than one (1) year and seven (7) months in furnishing a party with a copy of the court's decision.17 As can be gleaned from the foregoing cases, mere delay in the performance of one's function has been consistently considered as a less grave offense of simple neglect of duty, punishable by suspension without pay for one (1) month and one (1) day to six (6) months.


Following the foregoing jurisprudence, we find that the respondent was properly adjudged guilty only of Simple Neglect of Duty. The respondent's offense is not of the same gravity or odiousness as in the aforecited cases as would amount to Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service or Gross Neglect of Duty.


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