The Court of Appeals (CA) has ruled that the reassignment or transfer of a civil service employee whose rank, status, or salary are reduced violates his security of tenure which is assured by the Constitution.
In a decision written by Associate Justice Nina G. Antonio Valenzuela, the CA dismissed the petition of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) which challenged the 2018 ruling of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) in favor of Ma. Mercedes G. Salazar.
Salazar, an administrative officer II at the PAF’s dental dispensary in Jesus Villamor Air Base in Pasay City, filed before the CSC a complaint for illegal reassignment and constructive dismissal when she was transferred in 2016 to the PAF’s Special Operations Wings in Tarlac.
She followed the order of transfer for fear of being charged with insubordination or absence without leave.
In her complaint, she told the CSC that with her transfer she had to spend P1,232 daily for transportation, and had to endure long distance travel. She added that the payment of her P6,300 monthly allowance had been stopped.
Thus, she said, her rank and status had been diminished since there was no dental service and no administrative II position in Tarlac.
At the same time, she pointed out that as a public health worker, her reassignment should have been done in line with Republic Act No. 7305, the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers.
Ruling in favor of Salazar, the CSC said that she was considered a public health worker; her transfer violated RA 7305 as it was not done in the interest of public service; she was not informed of the reason for the transfer; she was not paid the necessary expenses for the transfer; and her transfer caused her financial dislocation and difficulty.
The CSC ruled that Salazar’s transfer constituted constructive dismissal.
When its motion for reconsideration was denied by the CSC, the PAF elevated the issue before the CA.
The appellate court said that based on the revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 7305, the term “public health workers” includes administrative and support personnel employed in health- related establishments.
“Since Salazar was the Administrative Officer II at a health-related establishment, the 1301st PAF Dental Dispensary, Pasay City, respondent Salazar was a public health worker,” it said.
It also said: “Since the respondent Salazar was a public health worker, applying Section 6(c), R.A. No. 7305, she may be transferred or reassigned only in the interest of public service, and with notice in writing of the reasons for the transfer or reassignment.”
In dismissing PAF’s petition, the CA ruled:
“Thus, absent a clear showing of grave abuse of discretion or arbitrariness and want of rational basis therefore, we find no sufficient reason to reverse the findings of the CSC.
“Clearly, the CSC did not err when it ruled that the respondent Salazar’s reassignment from 1301st PAF Dental Dispensary, Pasay City, to PAF Headquarters, Tarlac, was illegal, and constituted constructive dismissal.”
The CA’s decision reiterated previous Supreme Court rulings which stated that “reassignments involving a reduction in rank, status, or salary violate an employee’s security of tenure, which is assured by the Constitution, the Administrative Code of 1987, and the Omnibus Civil Service Rules and Regulations.”