The Comelec resolution was in connection with the May 2013 elections. File photo
MANILA, Philippines — The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan has acquitted former Cagayan De Oro City mayor Vicente Emano of a criminal case in connection with his alleged refusal to implement a Civil Service Commission order to reinstate a municipal employee who he supposedly demoted in 2009.
In a 13-page decision promulgated on October 13, the court's First Division said the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of Emano for violation of Section 121 of the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service (RRACCS) in relation to the Administrative Code of 1987.
Filed by the Office of the Ombudsman last year, the case stemmed from Emano's alleged willful refusal to implement a CSC decision issued on Sept. 18, 2012 ordering the reinstatement of Leonor Esparcia to her original position as administrative assistant III (senior book keeper ) at J.R. Borja General Hospital.
Esparcia was transferred by Emano to the City Library as watchman in October 2009.
In his testimony during the trial of the case, Emano said he ordered Esparcia's transfer as she was then being investigated for a complaint of anomalous conduct. Emano said the city government even filed an administrative case against Esparcia in 2011 following the investigation.
In its ruling, the First Division said that while it was established that Emano failed to implement the CSC decision until the end of his term, the prosecution failed to prove his “willful” intent to defy the CSC order.
“Upon an assiduous review of the evidence presented by the prosecution, the Court finds and so holds that the prosecution has failed to establish that the accused should be held criminally liable,” the decision penned by division chairman Associate Justice Efren De La Cruz read.
Associate Justices Geraldine Faith Econg and Edgardo Caldona concurred with the ruling.
Court records show that Esparcia was reinstated to her original post only on July 2, 2013 during the term of incumbent mayor Oscar Moreno.
Nonetheless, the First Division gave weight on Emano's argument that he did not order the immediate reinstatement of Esparcia as there was no writ of execution from the CSC accompanying its decision and because of an existing election ban by the Commission on Elections.
Emano pointed out that when the CSC, on Feb. 5, 2013, denied the city government's appeal on its September 2012 order for Esparcia's reinstatement, the Comelec's resolution, prohibiting the transfer or movement of officers and employees in the civil service from January 13 to June 12, 2013, was already in effect.
The Comelec resolution was in connection with the May 2013 elections.
Emano said that as advised by the city government's legal department, he deemed it prudent to put Esparcia's reinstatement on hold as moving her to her original post might constitute as a violation of the Comelec resolution and might cause his disqualification as he was then seeking re-election.
Furthermore, Emano said the city government also has a pending petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals questioning the CSC's September 2012 resolution. Records show that the CA denied the petition only on May 31, 2013.
“The lack of the writ of execution from the CSC and the fact that he has a pending appeal before the CA negate the impression that he willfully refused to implement the said decision,” the court's decision read.
“It is not disputed that when the accused received the CSC Resolution affirming its decision to reinstate Esparcia, it was already within the period of the election ban which prohibits the transfer or movement of government personnel...Thus for the accused to effect a reinstatement during the election ban...may indeed expose him to possible charges of election offenses,” it added.
Following his acquittal, the First Division also ordered the lifting of the hold departure order it earlier issued against Emano.