Dismissed workers sue Vizcaya execs
BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya— Employees of the provincial government on Friday sued Gov. Ruth Padilla and 19 other officials for illegally removing them from their positions.
In a petition filed in the Regional Trial Court here, 14 employees asked the court to stop Padilla from implementing Executive Order (EO) No. 3, which revoked the appointments of about 350 employees. The appointments were issued by former Gov. Luisa Cuaresma, who ran and lost for representative against Padilla’s husband, Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla.
The employees said Padilla’s order violated their constitutional right that removal from the civil service must only be for cause and carried out with due process.
Aside from the order, they also asked the nullification of the province’s budget ordinance, which slashed funds for the salaries of new appointees and employees promoted from January to June, affecting 180 personnel.
The petitioners said the ordinance violated the Local Government Code, which mandates that all occupied permanent plantilla positions must be provided with ample fund allocations.
On July 26, another set of 14 employees filed an appeal in the Civil Service Commission (CSC) questioning Padilla’s July 1 order, which, they said, violated their security of tenure as permanent government workers.
Padilla issued the EO on her first day in office, nullifying the appointments for supposed violation of the Local Government Code, the Omnibus Election Code and a CSC directive on mass appointments issued after the elections by outgoing local officials.
Records showed, however, that no appointment was issued by Cuaresma within the 45-day election ban. She approved 18 permanent appointments after the May 13 elections.
Under the CSC memo, appointments exceeding 20 employees in a month shall be considered mass appointments and shall be prohibited.
The provincial board on July 15 approved the province’s 2013 budget, which excluded salaries of 180 employees appointed and promoted by Cuaresma from Jan. 1 to June 30.
This became the basis for other officials under Padilla to issue notices and advisories that removed the names of newly appointed employees from the payroll and demoted the others to their previous posts.
Three advisories issued by Maybelle Blossom Sevillena, provincial administrator, also deprived them of travel and leave privileges.
The confusion as to who among the provincial officials has the task to remove the workers’ names from the payroll has delayed the release of salaries of about 1,000 employees, including those not covered by Padilla’s revocation order.
Lawyer Voltaire Garcia, provincial legal officer, said the delisting of the affected employees was an “inevitable consequence” of the action of the provincial board to take out the funds for their salaries.
“The delisting of the concerned employees in the payroll is in consonance with existing jurisprudence to the effect that when funds are no longer available, the employees cannot validly continue holding their positions,” Garcia said.
On July 30, Garcia issued an advisory asking affected employees to stop performing their duties and functions, citing lack of funds for their salaries.
In her public speeches, Padilla defended her order, saying CSC Chair Francisco Duque III and the agency’s lawyers agreed with the provincial government’s action.
In an interview, Garcia clarified, however, that the CSC opinion cited by Padilla was merely “verbal.” Melvin Gascon, Inquirer Northern Luzon