December 27, 2017

Government workers found guilty of fixing and/or in collusion with fixers in consideration of economic and/or other gain or advantage shall be penalized by dismissal and perpetual disqualification from public service.

The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has integrated violations of Republic Act No. 9485 or Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007 in the list of administrative offenses in the 2017 Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service (2017 RACCS), with corresponding penalties depending on the gravity or depravity and effects of the offense in government service.

Officials and employees who are reported for the following acts may be slapped with suspension of for thirty (30) days without pay and mandatory attendance in Values Orientation Program for the first offense, suspension of up to three (3) months without pay for the second offense, and dismissal and perpetual disqualification from public service for the third offense:

•  Refusal to accept application and/or request within the prescribed period or any document being submitted by a client;

•  Failure to act on an application and/or request or failure to refer back to the client a request which cannot be acted upon due to lack of requirements within the prescribed period;

•  Failure to attend to clients who are within the premises of the office or agency concerned prior to the end of official working hours and during lunch break;

•  Failure to render frontline services within the prescribed period on any application and/or request without due cause;

•  Failure to give the client a written notice on the disapproval of an application or request; and

•  Imposition of additional irrelevant requirements other than those listed in the first notice.

Indirect contempt
Also one of the highlights of the 2017 RACCS is the imposition of suspension to agency heads on top of the fine, found guilty of disobedience of or resistance to a lawful writ, process, order, decision, resolution, ruling, summons, subpoena, command, or injunction of the Commission.

The CSC 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 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 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 administrative rule 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.

•  A provision which clarifies administrative disciplinary complaints cognizable by the Commission against officials who are not presidential appointees and who are not elective officials.

•  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.

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

•  Introduces different ways of 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.

•  Adds a separate rule on the payment of back wages and other similar benefits to an illegally dismissed/suspended official or employee.

•  Provides a clearer definition of terms such as back wages, developmental interventions, employee, ex-parte, fixer, human resource, motu propio, official, prima facie case, 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.

•  Emphasizes 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.

•  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.