Political Law

Cristina Jenny Cariño vs Executive Director David Daoas

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G.R. No. 144493 – 380 SCRA 355 – Political Law – Law on Public Officers – Reassignment – Security of Tenure

Cristina Jenny Cariño was the appointed Accountant III at the Office of the Northern Cultural Communities (ONCC) Regional Office 1. ONCC is now known as the National Commission for Indigenous People (NCIP).

In November 1996, Cariño was reassigned by the ONCC Executive Director David Daoas as a Technical Assistant of the Socio-Economic Division of the ONCC. Cariño questioned the said reassignment as she averred that such reassignment was merely an offshoot of her refusal to sign a disbursement voucher for the travel expenses to Indonesia of ONCC Regional Director Rosalina Bistoyong.

In March 1997, Bistoyong ordered Cariño to report to ONCC Region II. Cariño consulted (Civil Service Commission) CSC Regional Office 1 and the CSC regional Director rendered a legal opinion stating that the reassignment was not proper. Bistoyong and Daoas appealed the legal opinion to the CSC Central Office.

Taking cue from the legal opinion, Cariño refused to report to ONCC Region II. Instead, she reported to ONCC Region I every day.

In April 1997, Daoas and Bistoyong caused Cariño to be dropped from the rolls of ONCC employees on the ground that she failed to report to ONCC Region II.

In September 1997, the CSC Central Office denied the appeal of Bistoyong and Daoas and directed ONCC Region I to accept Cariño. Cariño reported for work but she was informed that the CSC Order for reinstatement was already rendered moot by reason of her being dropped from the rolls.

ISSUE: Whether or not a government employee should comply with a reassignment order prior to the latter being declared void.

HELD: As a general rule, YES. However, in the case at bar, there was already a legal opinion by the CSC Regional Office 1 which stated that Cariño’s reassignment was not in order. This legal opinion was Cariño’s basis in not reporting to ONCC Region II. In fact, Bistoyong appealed the legal opinion and the CSC Central Office affirmed CSC-RO1.

CSC-RO1 must be accorded the presumption of regularity in the performance of its duties. Hence, when it rendered a legal opinion as regards the reassignment of Cariño, it must be considered in order and should be respected pending appeal by Bistoyong. Cariño is thus justified in not heeding her reassignment.

The reassignment is not valid due to the fact that it was made without Cariño’s consent. It is true that the transfer or detail of a public officer or employee is a prerogative of the appointing authority and that it can be done as the exigencies of the public service may require, however, there is an exception to said rule which is: officers appointed to a particular station may only be reassigned to another station with their consent.

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