559 Phil. 482
First, the incident reports submitted by MCWD employees Samuela M. Suan, Editha Luzano and Jocelyn Lebumfacil stating that, during office hours on January 25, 1999, Romagos suddenly and without provocation began rambling loudly and incoherently, causing alarm and anxiety among office visitors and employees;Romagos filed with the CSC Regional Office (CSCRO) a Complaint-Appeal, questioning the procedure and factual basis of her dismissal. The CSCRO dismissed the appeal in its Decision dated June 23, 2000, holding that the evidence cited by MCWD in its December 1, 1999 letter, as well as new evidence presented by MCWD General Manager Dulce M. Abanilla (Abanilla), established that Romagos was mentally incapacitated, thus:
Second, the incident report issued by Jocelyn Lebumfacil stating that, during the August 4, 1999 HRD staff meeting, Romagos suddenly and without provocation began rambling loudly and incoherently, thereby disrupting the meeting and causing unease among the staff; and
Third, the November 18, 1989 Certification issued by Dr. Augustus B. Costas that Romagos is suffering from Major Depression; and the January 11, 1991 Certification of Dr. Renato D. Obra that Romagos is under treatment for Major Depression.
MCWD also cited Romagos' irregular attendance.
Furthermore, there are other additional evidence submitted by General Manager Abanilla showing that there were incidents which happened after August 20, 1999 involving Ms. Romagos where the latter was observed to again utter incoherent words and become hysterical. A narration of the incidents which happened on September 6 and 7, 1999 are contained in the affidavits executed by Ms. Diosdada Faelnar and Atty. Vesmindo M. Santiago, the Chief of the Medical and Dental Services and the Asst. General Manager for Administration, respectively. Even as of December 1999, Ms. Romagos' mental problems were still observed by the OIC of the HRD, per the Inter-Office Memorandum dated December 21, 1999, with the latter even going to the extent of asking for the assistance of the security guards out of fear on what the appellant might do.In her motion for reconsideration, Romagos questioned the CSCRO for giving weight to new evidence regarding her alleged abnormal behavior in September and December 1999, even when MCWD neither cited said evidence in its December 1, 1999 letter nor disclosed them to her at any time thereafter.
Moreover, we note the different letters and reports/studies/ researches penned by the appellant clearly manifesting her mental disorder. Her report to General Manager Abanilla dated December 27 and 29, 1999 are incomprehensible, incoherent, muddled and so disorganized that we can't help but conclude that indeed appellant is not in her right frame of mind. This observa[tion] also holds true when we examine and read the papers and letters written and prepared by the appellant dated August 6, 10, 30, 1999 and January 28, 1994.
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All of these foregoing discussion would clearly prove that appellant is really suffering from some form of mental disorder and, as a natural consequence, she is incapable of discharging her functions x x x.
As culled from the records, several incidents (as evidenced by the reports submitted by several officials and employees) occurred showing the abnormal behavior of the appellant, two (2) of which are, as follows:Her motion for reconsideration was denied by the CSC in Resolution No. 011222 dated July 18, 2001.1. Incident Report dated January 25, 1999 of Mrs. Samuela M. Susan, Senior Industrial Relations Development Officer A, the pertinent portion of which states, "I was stunned when the next thing I knew, she was already behind me at a very close range and bombarded me with insensible statements. I remained silent and intentionally observed what would be her next move while she was at the height of her outburst of deep seated anger and suspicion. She addressed to me all her sentiments telling me about corruption, illegal practices, unfair practices in a loud, emotionally charged voice."Hence, the continuous abnormal behavior of Romagos cannot be denied. The Commission is convinced that the dropping of the appellant from the rolls is justified.
2. Inter-Office Memorandum dated January 25, 1999 of Editha D. Luzano, Officer-in-Charge of the Human Resources Department of the said agency, to wit, "On January 25, 1999, Ms. Vilma Romagos' behavior became unstable again. She began talking to herself and then started scolding other people in the HRD office. Her actions caused anxieties to the other employees, thus disturbing their work. Since December 1998, she has been behaving like this."
On the issue of due process, the Commission is not convinced that the right of Romagos to due process was violated. As specifically provided in Section 2, Rule XII of the Rules abovementioned, "notice shall be given to the employee containing a brief statement of the nature of his incapacity to work, and moreover, the said notice of separation shall be signed by the appointing authority or head of office." A perusal of the Notice dated December 1, 1999, sent to Romagos reveals that these requirements were strictly followed.
WHEREFORE, finding the instant petition not impressed with merit, the same is hereby DENIED DUE COURSE. Costs against petitioner.Romagos filed a motion for reconsideration but the CA denied the same in the questioned October 29, 2002 Resolution.
The foregoing issues actually boil down to the question: whether the CA correctly held that there was proper procedure and substantial basis for MCWD (respondent) to declare petitioner mentally unfit to work and drop her from the rolls.
- Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion in failing to squarely rule upon an issue raised in the petition for review;
- Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion in lightly adopting the findings of fact of the Honorable Civil Service Commission Regional Office without the documents and evidence, which were the very basis of the latter's findings, brought before it for studied appreciation;
- Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion in adopting the findings of the Honorable Civil Service Commission Regional Office which findings were based on evidence not disclosed to the petitioner, in violation of her right to administrative due process;
- Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion in sustaining the petitioner's dropping from the rolls when there is no shred of proof of the alleged abnormal behavior manifested in continuing incapacity to work;
- Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion in affirming the petitioner's dropping from the rolls when the requirement of the rules are not complied with;
- Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals and the Honorable Commission gravely abused their discretion in holding that no prior notice or opportunity to contest the alleged unauthorized absences, so included as ground in Ms. Romagos' separation letter, is required by law;
- Whether or not the Honorable Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion in not finding any bad faith on the part of Editha D. Luzon and Dulce M. Abanilla when adequate evidence points to the contrary.
Sec. 46. x x x (b) The following shall be grounds for disciplinary actions: x x x (19) Physical or mental incapacity or disability due to immoral or vicious habits. (Emphasis added)Separation from the service for such cause is done by way of a disciplinary proceeding governed by Rule II of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 19, series of 1999 (MC 19-99). The minimum procedural requirements thereof are: a) that notice of the charge be served on the officer or employee; and, b) that the latter be given opportunity to be heard.
Clearly, before an officer or employee may be dropped from the rolls for mental incapacity, the following elements and process must obtain: first, that it has been observed that the subject officer or employee has been behaving abnormally for an extended period; second, that it has been established through substantial evidence that such abnormal behavior manifests a continuing mental disorder and incapacity to work; third, that a written notice is issued by the subject's immediate supervisor, describing the former's continuing mental disorder and incapacity to work and citing the reports of his co-workers or immediate supervisor, as confirmed by the head of office; and finally, that another notice is issued by the appointing authority or head of office, informing the subject of his separation from the service due to mental incapacity.Rule XII
Section 2. Dropping from the Rolls. Officers and employees who are either habitually absent or have unsatisfactory or poor performance or have shown to be physically and mentally unfit to perform their duties may be dropped from the rolls subject to the following procedures:
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2.3 Physically and Mentally Unfita. An officer or employee who is continuously absent for more than one (1) year by reason of illness may be declared physically unfit to perform his duties and the head of office in the exercise of his sound judgment may consequently drop him from the rolls.For the purpose of the three (3) preceding paragraphs, notice shall be given to the employee containing a brief statement of the nature of his incapacity to work.
b. An officer or employee who is intermittently absent by reason of illness for at least 260 working days during a 24-month period may also be declared physically unfit by the head of office.
c. An officer or employee who is behaving abnormally for an extended period which manifests continuing mental disorder and incapacity to work as reported by his co-workers or immediate supervisor and confirmed by the head of office, may likewise be dropped from the rolls.
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2.6 This mode of separation from the service for unauthorized absences or unsatisfactory or poor performance or physical and mental incapacity is non-disciplinary in nature and shall not result in the forfeiture of any benefits on the part of the official or employee nor in disqualifying him from employment in the government;
2.7 The written notice mentioned in the preceding paragraphs may be signed by the person exercising immediate supervision over the official or employee. However, the notice of separation shall be signed by the appointing authority or head of office. (Emphasis ours)
This is to certify that Mrs. Vilma Romagos, 41 years old, married, an employee of MCWD, sought consultation last Aug. 19, 1999 and today.She also questions the finding that her purported abnormality has lasted for an extended period, pointing out that respondent's December 1, 1999 letter cited only two incidents in January and August 1999. She impugns the validity of the admission of additional evidence referring to other incidents in September and December 1999, of which she was never apprised.
Psychotherapy done, she is advised to come back for check-up after one month. Rec: Physically and mentally fit to go back to work. (Emphasis added)
As to the bearing to the case of the Certification of Dr. Obra dated August 20, 1999, we are of the view that it is not of sufficient weight to negate or outweigh the actual observations of appellant's co-workers on her abnormal behavior. It cannot be denied that the time a patient stays with the doctor during consultation and check-up is so much less than the time co-workers spend with one another during working hours. It cannot be denied also that stress-wise employees during working time are subject to various work-related pressures. As the person who are with the appellant in the workplace for a considerable length of time, co-workers are the ones who can observe the actuations and behavior of the appellant especially when she is beset with problems and pressures.Such reasoning is flawed. To begin with, it was respondent which elicited the opinion of Dr. Obra when, in a letter dated August 5, 1999, it required petitioner to undergo evaluation and conditioned her return to work only upon being certified as mentally fit, thus:
This has reference to Mrs. Vilma Romagos' observed abnormal behavior, We know you are fully aware of this considering that every time she creates trouble, Mrs. Faelnar always sought assistance from you. This year alone, she has been behaving abnormally on three occasions specifically on January 25-30, July 12-16 and the most recent incident was that of yesterday, August 4, 1999 during HRD's departmental meeting, per attached HRD report.Hence, respondent cannot impugn the August 20, 1999 medical certification of Dr. Obra merely because said document is not favorable to it.
Thus, for our mutual benefit, you are advised to bring her to her psychiatrist, Dr. Pureza Trinidad Onate or Dr. Renato D. Obra, for check-up/treatment immediately. Starting on Monday, August 9, 1999, we regret that we cannot allow entry for her. She may go back to work only when certified by her doctor that she is already mentally fit.
The Court of Appeals correctly ordered respondent's reinstatement. However, the award of backwages and other monetary benefits should not be limited to 5 years and must therefore be modified in line with the recent case of Civil Service Commission v. Gentallan. We held in said case that an illegally dismissed government employee who is later ordered reinstated is entitled to backwages and other monetary benefits from the time of her illegal dismissal up to her reinstatement. This is only fair and just because an employee who is reinstated after having been illegally dismissed is considered as not having left her office and should be given the corresponding compensation at the time of her reinstatement.WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The July 5, 2002 Decision and the October 29, 2002 Resolution of the Court of Appeals are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The dropping from the rolls of petitioner Vilma A. Romagos is DECLARED ILLEGAL and respondent Metro Cebu Water District is DIRECTED to reinstate petitioner to her previous position and pay her backwages.