August 30, 2017

Agency heads found guilty of disobedience of or resistance to a lawful writ, process, order, decision, resolution, ruling, summons, subpoena, command, or injunction of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) may be suspended from service for indirect contempt and/or imposed a fine.

In the new 2017 Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service (RACCS), the Commission has added the penalty of suspension of one month up to a maximum of six months for officials found guilty of indirect contempt. This may apply to appointive officials, presidential appointees, and elective officials.

Aside from suspension, a person guilty of indirect contempt against the CSC may also be slapped with a fine of PHP1,000.00 per day for every act of indirect contempt.

Under the previous version of the said rules, indirect contempt is punishable only by a fine of PHP1,000.00 for every day of non-implementation of the CSC directive.

New rules

The 2017 RACCS, which the CSC launched to the public on August 30, 2017 in its central office in Quezon City, contains procedural guidelines and substantive provisions for the disposition of disciplinary and non-disciplinary cases. It is an update of the 2011 version.

Salient features of the 2017 RACCS, which took effect on August 17, 2017, include the following:

•  The penalty of suspension may be converted to payment of fine when the respondent has already retired or otherwise separated from the government service. In such case, the fine may be sourced from the accumulated leave credits or whatever benefits the respondent is supposed to claim.

•  The 2017 RACCS clarifies that cases cognizable by the Commission include complaints against officials who are not presidential appointees and who are not elective officials.

•  The 2017 RACCS incorporates provisions on handling sexual harassment cases, as well as violations and penalties under Republic Act No. 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007.

•  A new provision states that if the CSC places the respondent under preventive suspension, it shall be executory unless a Temporary Restraining Order is issued by the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.

•  The 2017 RACCS adopts the Judicial Affidavit Rule, in which a Judicial Affidavit may be accepted in place of direct testimonies of the witnesses during hearings.

•  Options for conducting a preliminary investigation are provided: (a) requiring the submission of counter affidavit or comment and/or other documents from the person complained of within five (5) days from receipt of the complaint which is sufficient in form and substance; (b) ex-parte evaluation of the records; or (c) conduct of clarificatory meeting with the parties to discuss the merits of the case.

•  The 2017 RACCS adds a set of guidelines on the payment of back wages and other similar benefits to an illegally dismissed/suspended official or employee.

•  The 2017 RACCS provides a clearer definition of terms such as back wages, developmental interventions, employee, ex-parte, fixer, human resource, motu propio, official, prima facie, protest, psychological intervention, sexual harassment, and show-cause order. It redefines the terms agency and probationary employee, and renames personnel actions as human resource actions.

•  It emphasized that mitigating circumstances shall not apply to the penalty of dismissal from the service.

•  Psychological and developmental interventions are introduced as prerequisites for Dropping from the Rolls.

•  Both terminal leave benefits and personal shares/contributions to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) or other equivalent retirement benefits system are excluded from the accessory penalty of forfeiture of retirement benefits.

•  The 2017 RACCS adopts the Presumptive Notice Rule, which gives the presumption that a party was duly served with the Notice or Order after fifty-five (55) days from date of mailing if the addressee is from within the geographical area of the CSC Office exercising jurisdiction over the case, or after seventy-five (75) days if the addressee is from outside the geographical area of the CSC Office.

•  A new provision states that parties may avail of private couriers, apart from registered mail, for the service of pleadings, motions, and other submissions to ensure timely receipt of such.

The 2017 RACCS aims to ensure consistency, predictability, and stability—values which are integral in upholding the rule of law. It also affords government workers fair treatment and protects them from being victimized by political biases, persecution, and personal whims.

The formulation of the rules was done in consultation with various stakeholders, and involved a thorough review of existing rules, jurisprudence, and current situations toward a more responsive, comprehensive, and reliable set of rules for case adjudication and human resource actions in the civil service.