The Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of a Davao City government doctor for his failure to respond to a bombing incident at the Davao International Airport in 2003 allegedly because he had to attend to the needs of his family.
In an 11-page decision penned by Justice Roberto A. Abad, the Court En Banc dismissed the petition for review filed by Dr. Edilberto Estampa Jr. who sued the City of Davao for firing him for gross neglect of duty.
The Court rejected Dr. Estampa’s defense that he had to stay at home to look after his then one-year-old daughter, maintaining that “a person’s duty to his family is not incompatible with his job-related commitment to come to the rescue of victims of disasters.”
The Court found no excuse to reinstate Dr. Estampa “to the position he abandoned when it needed him. It added: “What marked his gross irresponsibility was that he did not even care to call up his superior or associates to inform them of his inability to respond to the emergency. As a result, the city health office failed to provide the needed coordination of all efforts intended to cope with the disaster.”
The case stemmed from the March 4, 2003 bombing at the passengers’ terminal of the Davao International Airport that killed 22 persons and injured 113 others. Dr. Estampa was then a Medical Officer of the Davao City Government and head of the Task Force Unit as the Disaster Coordinator under the Disaster Coordinating Council.
Dr. Estampa explained that he had failed to respond to the medical emergency because he had to take care of his daughter and his wife who was then six-months pregnant. The Office of the City Mayor of Davao City, however, ordered his dismissal. The physician appealed to the Civil Service Commission and then to the Court of Appeals, which both upheld his dismissal. (GR No. 190681, Estampa, Jr. v. City Government of Davao, June 21, 2010)