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Digest:People v. Reyes (63 SCAD 629; 247 SCRA 328, 1995)

Digest:People v. Reyes (63 SCAD 629; 247 SCRA 328, 1995)

Facts: Respondent Buenaventura C. Maniego issued MICP Customs Personnel Order assigning Jovencio D. Ebio, Customs Operation Chief, MICP to the Office of the Deputy Collector of Customs for Operations as Special Assistant.  The actual transfer of Ebio was made on January 14, 1992.

Ebio filed with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) a letter-complaint protesting his transfer. Ebio claimed that his new assignment violated COMELEC Resolution No. 2333 and section 261 (h) of B.P. Blg. 881, the Omnibus Election Code, which prohibit the transfer of any employee in the civil service 120 days before the May 11, 1992 synchronized national and local elections.

Issue: Whether or not the Maniego is guilty for violating the omnibus election code.

Ruling: Yes. We start with the constitutional injunction that no officer or employee in the civil service shall engage, directly or indirectly, in any electioneering or partisan political campaign.  This prohibition is reiterated in the Administrative Code of 1987.  Section 261 (h) of B.P. Blg. 881 implements this constitutional prohibition.

It ought to be immediately obvious that Section 261 (h) of B.P. Blg. 881 does not per se outlaw the transfer of a government officer or employee during the election period. To be sure, the transfer or detail of a public officer or employee is a prerogative of the appointing authority. 11 It is necessary to meet the exigencies of public service sometimes too difficult to perceive and predict. Without this inherent prerogative, the appointing authority may not be able to cope with emergencies to the detriment of public service. Clearly then, the transfer or detail of government officer or employee will not be penalized by Section 261 (h) of B.P. Blg. 881 if done to promote efficiency in the government service. Hence, Section 2 of Resolution No. 2333 provides that the COMELEC has to pass upon the reason for the proposed transfer or detail, viz: "Any request for authority to make or cause any transfer or detail of any officer or employee in the civil service, including public school teachers, shall be submitted in writing to the Commission indicating therein the office and place to which the officer or employee is proposed to be transferred or detailed, and stating the reason therefor

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