Does the Civil Service Commission have the legal personality to appeal a decision of the Court of Appeals exonerating an employee charged in an administrative case, which decision, in effect, reversed and nullified the Commissions finding that the respondent employee is guilty as charged?

After an exhaustive and careful scrutiny of P.D. No. 807 (otherwise known as the Civil Service Law), Executive Order No. 292 (otherwise known as the Revised Administrative Code of 1987) as well as the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of Executive Order No. 292, I find no legal basis to support the contention of the majority that the Commission has that legal personality.

The Civil Service Commission is the central personnel agency of the government.[1] Corollarily, it is equipped with the power and function to hear and decide administrative cases instituted by or brought before it directly or on appeal, including contested appointments and to review decisions and actions of its offices and the agencies attached to it.[2] This is in consonance with its authority to pass upon the removal, separation and suspension of all officers and employees in the civil service and upon all matters relating to the conduct, discipline and efficiency of such officers and employees except as otherwise provided by the Constitution or by law.[3] Sitting en banc, it is composed of a Chairman and two Commissioners[4] who shall decide by a majority vote of all its Members any case or matter brought before it for resolution.[5]

It is thus clear that the Civil Service Commission has been constituted as a disciplining authority. Such has always been the intent of the 1987 Constitution, the Revised Administrative Code of 1987 on the Civil Service Commission, as well as the Civil Service Law. In fact, the Proposed Civil Service Code of the Philippines seeks to provide that the Commission shall have concurrent original disciplinary jurisdiction over officials and employees, including Presidential appointees of the departments, agencies, bureaus, provinces, cities, municipalities, state colleges and universities, and instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled corporations with original charters. Pursuant to its quasi-judicial function, it acts as an impartial tribunal in the resolution of the cases brought before it.

Section 34, Rule XIV of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of Executive Order No. 292 provides the answer as to who may appear before the Commission, thus:

Administrative proceedings may be commenced against a subordinate officer or employee by the following officials and employees:

(a) Secretary of department;

(b) Head of Office of Equivalent rank;

(c) Head of Local Government Unit;

(d) Chief of Agency;

(e) Regional Director; or

(f) Upon Sworn, Written complaint of Any other Person.[6] (Underscoring supplied)

Consequently, the complaint can either be the Secretary of department, head of office of equivalent rank, head of a local government unit, chief of agency, regional director or any other person or party. The phrase any other party has been understood to be a complainant other than the head of department or office of equivalent rank or head of local government or chiefs of agencies or regional directors.[7] As further illustrated in Sec. 37 of P.D. No. 807:

x x x . A complaint may be filed directly with the Commission by a private citizen against a government official or employee x x x.

The respondent, on the other hand, is any subordinate officer or employee. Nowhere can be found, expressly or impliedly, in Section 34 of Rule XIV of Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of E.O. No. 292, the Commission as one of the parties, either as complainant or respondent in an administrative case. Logically and by necessary implication, it cannot considered either a complaint or a respondent. Expressio unius est exclusio alterius. The express mention of one person, thing or consequence implies the exclusion of all others.[8] Based on the foregoing, there is no other conclusion but that the Civil Service Commission is not a party to an administrative proceeding brought before it. As provided by Supreme Court Administrative Circular 1-95, decisions, orders or rulings of the Commission may be brought to the Supreme Court, now to the Court of Appeals, on certiorari by the aggrieved party.[9] By inference, an aggrieved party is either the one who initiated the complaint before the Commission or the respondent, the person subject of the complaint. In fact, the question as to who is an aggrieved party has long been settled in a litany of cases. An aggrieved party in an administrative case is the government employee against whom an administrative complaint is filed. The Civil Service Commission is definitely not a government employee. Neither is it an agency against whom an administrative charge is filed. While it may be argued that, in a sense, the government is an aggrieved party in administrative proceedings before the Commission, it nevertheless is not the aggrieved party contemplated under P.D. No. 807 or the Civil Service Law.

Having established that the Civil Service Commission is not a party, much less an aggrieved party, then indubitably, it has no legal personality to elevate the case to the appellate authority. The Commission, therefore, has no legal standing to file the instant petition.

While admittedly, the Civil Service Commission is considered a nominal party when its decision is brought before the Court of Appeals, such is only a procedural formality. As with appellate processes, a nominal party is not the aggrieved party. Its inclusion as a party is based primarily on the fact that the decision, order or ruling it issued is being contested or assailed and secondarily, for purposes of enforcement. By analogy, the Commission in the performance of its quasi-judicial functions is just like a judge who should detach himself from cases where his decision is appealed to a higher court for review. The raison detre for such doctrine is that a judge is not an active combatant in such proceeding and must leave the opposing parties to contend their individual positions and for the appellate court to decide the issues without his active participation. By filing this case, petitioner in a way ceased to be judicial and has become adversarial instead.[10]

I dissent from the ponencias conclusion that the Commission may appeal a judgement of exoneration in an administrative case involving nepotism in light of the foregoing disquisition.

[1] Article IX-B, Sec. 3, 1987 Constitution.

[2] Chapter 3, Sec. 12 (11), The Revised Administrative Code of 1987 on the Civil Service Commission.

[3] Rule XIV, Sec. 31, Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of Executive Order No. 292.

[4] Article IX-B, Sec. 1, 1987 Constitution.

[5] Article IX-A, Sec. 7, 1987 Constitution.

[6] Sec. 38 (a), of the Civil Service Law, Sec. 48 (1) Chapter 7 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1987 on the Civil Service Commission.

[7] P.D. No. 807, Sec. 38 (g).

[8] Agpalo, Ruben E., Statutory Construction, Second Ed., 1990, p. 160.

[9] Chapter 3, Sec. 12, The Revised Administrative Code of 1987 on the Civil Service Commission in accordance with Sec. 7, Article IX-A of the 1987 Constitution.

[10] Judge Calderon v. Solicitor General, 215 SCRA 876 [1992].