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VILMA L. ROMAGOS v. ML1RO CLBU WA1LR DIS1RIC1,et al.

G.R. No. JS6J00, J2 September 2007


Austria-Martinez, J. (1hird Division)

efore av officer or evto,ee va, be aroea frov tbe rott. for vevtat ivcaacit,, tbe fottorivg
etevevt. ava roce.. vv.t obtaiv: fir.t, tbat it ba. beev ob.errea tbat tbe .vb;ect officer or evto,ee ba. beev
bebarivg abvorvatt, for av etevaea erioa; .ecova, tbat it ba. beev e.tabti.bea tbrovgb .vb.tavtiat eriaevce
tbat .vcb abvorvat bebarior vavife.t. a covtivvivg vevtat ai.oraer ava ivcaacit, to ror/; tbira, tbat a
rrittev votice i. i..vea b, tbe .vb;ect`. ivveaiate .verri.or, ae.cribivg tbe forver`. covtivvivg vevtat
ai.oraer ava ivcaacit, to ror/ ava citivg tbe reort. of bi. coror/er. or ivveaiate .verri.or, a. covfirvea
b, tbe beaa of office; ava fivatt,, tbat avotber votice i. i..vea b, tbe aoivtivg avtborit, or beaa of office,
ivforvivg tbe .vb;ect of bi. .earatiov frov tbe .errice ave to vevtat ivcaacit,. 1bv., a aectaratiov of vevtat
ai.oraer aoe. vot avtovaticatt, trav.tate to a ;vagvevt of vevtat ivcaacit, to erforv ror/.

Vilma L. Romagos is an employee at the Metro Cebu \ater District ,MC\D,. 1wo
incident reports were submitted by her co-employees stating that during a meeting and oice
hours, Romagos suddenly and without proocation began rambling loudly and incoherently,
causing alarm and anxiety among oice isitors and employees. In 1989 and 1999
respectiely, a Certiication was issued by Dr. Costas and Dr. Obra stating that Romagos is
suering rom Major Depression. loweer on August 20, 1999 a medical certiication
issued by Dr. Obra categorically declared Romagos physically and mentally it to go back to
work`. 1hereater, on August 9, 1999, Romagos was denied entry into the work premises by
MC\D unless she undergoes psychiatric treatment and is certiied by her doctor to be
mentally it to work. Lentually, in a letter dated December 1, 1999, MC\D inormed
Romagos that, eectie January 1, 2000, she was being dropped rom the rolls or mental
incapacity. Romagos iled with the CSC Regional Oice ,CSCRO, a Complaint-Appeal,
questioning the procedure and actual basis o her dismissal. In dismissing her appeal, it held
that the eidence cited by MC\D in its letter, as well as new eidence presented by MC\D
General Manager Dulce M. Abanilla ,Abanilla,, where Romagos was obsered to again utter
incoherent words and become hysterical, and submitted reports that are incomprehensible,
incoherent established that the latter was mentally incapacitated. CSC airmed the CSCRO
Decision. In a petition or reiew

with the CA, Romagos questioned the CSC Resolutions or
insuiciency o eidence and lack o due process. CA ound that MC\D correctly declared
Romagos mentally unit.

ISSULS:

1, \hether or not the CA correctly held that there was proper procedure and
substantial basis or MC\D to declare Romagos mentally unit to work and drop her rom
the rolls
2, \hether Romagos`s separation rom the serice is alid and i so, up to what
extent is she entitled to award o backwages and other monetary beneits

HLLD:

Petition GRAN1LD.

1he procedure adopted by MCWD in dropping Romagos from the rolls substantially
complied with the two-notice requirement of Memorandum Circular 40-98.

Under Section 46, Book V o Lxecutie Order ,L.O., No. 292,

one o the causes or
separation rom goernment serice o an oicer or employee is mental incapacity,

ri.:

Sec. 46. x x x ,b, 1he ollowing shall be grounds or disciplinary
actions: x x x ,19, Physical or mental incapacity or disability ave to ivvorat or
riciov. babit..

Separation rom the serice or such cause is done by way o a disciplinary proceeding
goerned by Rule II o CSC Memorandum Circular No. 19, series o 1999 ,MC 19-99,. 1he
minimum procedural requirements thereo are: a, that notice o the charge be sered on the
oicer or employee, and, b, that the latter be gien opportunity to be heard.

\hile Section 46 o L.O. No. 292 is silent on this matter, mental incapacity vot
arising rom immoral or icious habits is also a cause or separation under Section 26

o
L.O. No. 292 and Section 2,2,, Article IX,B, o the 198 Constitution, which demand o
goernment oicers and employees continuing merit and itness. Separation rom the
serice or such cause is carried out through a non-disciplinary process goerned by CSC
Memorandum Circular No. 40, series o 1998 ,MC 40-98,.

1he only dierence between the two modes o separation is that the irst carries
administratie disabilities, such as oreiture o retirement beneits and perpetual
disqualiication rom employment in the goernment serice, while the second does not.
But both result in loss o employment - a property right protected under the due process
clause. lence, een i considered a non-disciplinary mode o separation, dropping rom the
rolls due to mental incapacity not arising rom immoral or icious habits is subject to the
requirements o due process,

as prescribed in the ollowing proisions o MC 40-98:

Rule XII

Section 2. Droivg frov tbe Rott.. Oicers and employees who are
either habitually absent or hae unsatisactory or poor perormance or hae
shown to be physically and mentally unit to perorm their duties may be
dropped rom the rolls subject to the ollowing procedures:

x x x x

2.3 Physically and Mentally Unit

a. An oicer or employee who is continuously
absent or more than one ,1, year by reason o illness may be
declared physically unit to perorm his duties and the head o
oice in the exercise o his sound judgment may
consequently drop him rom the rolls.

b. An oicer or employee who is intermittently
absent by reason o illness or at least 260 working days
during a 24-month period may also be declared physically
unit by the head o oice.

c. An oicer or employee who is behaving
abnormally for an extended period which manifests
continuing mental disorder and incapacity to work as
reported by his co-workers or immediate supervisor and
confirmed by the head of office, may likewise be dropped
rom the rolls.

Ior the purpose of the three (3) preceding paragraphs, notice
shall be given to the employee containing a brief statement of the
nature of his incapacity to work.

x x x x

2.6 1his mode o separation rom the serice or unauthorized
absences or unsatisactory or poor perormance or physical and mental
incapacity is non-disciplinary in nature and shall not result in the
forfeiture of any benefits on the part of the official or employee nor in
disqualifying him from employment in the government,

2. 1he rrittev votice mentioned in the preceding paragraphs may be
signed by the person exercising immediate superision oer the oicial or
employee. loweer, the votice of .earatiov shall be signed by the appointing
authority or head o oice.

Clearly, beore an oicer or employee may be dropped rom the rolls or mental
incapacity, the ollowing elements and process must obtain: irst, that it has been obsered
that the subject oicer or employee has been behaing abnormally or an extended period,
second, that it has been established through substantial eidence that such abnormal
behaior maniests a continuing mental disorder and incapacity to work, third, that a written
notice is issued by the subject`s immediate superisor, describing the ormer`s continuing
mental disorder and incapacity to work and citing the reports o his co-workers or
immediate superisor, as conirmed by the head o oice, and inally, that another notice is
issued by the appointing authority or head o oice, inorming the subject o his separation
rom the serice due to mental incapacity.

1hus, a declaration o mental disorder does not automatically translate to a judgment
o mental incapacity to perorm work. A window remains open or the aected oicer or
employee to counter opinion on his mental condition and to show that his ability to work
remains unimpaired. Only then may the appointing authority or head o oice decide on
whether said oicer or employee is no longer mentally capable o perorming his work and
should be discharged. 1hese requirements are designed to obiate misuse o non-
disciplinary modes o separation or petty engeance or icious harassment.

1he procedure adopted by MC\D in dropping Romagos rom the rolls substantially
complied with the two-notice requirement o MC 40-98. MC\D issued to Romagos the
August 5, 1999 letter, requiring her to undergo psychiatric ealuation.


MCWD sufficiently established that Romagos suffers from a mental disorder

1he 1989 and 1991 medical certiications issued by Dr. Costas and Dr. Obra
establish that Romagos was diagnosed to be suering rom Major Depression. 1he 1999
medical certiication o Dr. Obra proes that, at the time o her separation rom the serice,
Romagos was undergoing psychiatric treatment. 1he incident reports submitted by
MC\D`s employees uniormly indicate that Romagos is mentally disturbed. 1he latter`s own
letters and reports also reeal an abnormal mental condition. Moreoer, Romagos` abnormal
mental condition appears to be in a continuing state, considering that she was irst diagnosed
to be suering rom Major Depression in 1989, yet, in 1999, she was still undergoing
psychiatric ealuation.

MCWD did not sufficiently prove that Romagos' mental condition has rendered her
incapacitated to work as to justify her being dropped from the rolls

All that the 1989 and 1991 medical certiications established is that, during said
periods, Romagos was diagnosed to be suering rom Major Depression. 1hese
certiications hardly proe that Romagos` behaior maniests a continuing mental disorder
and incapacity to work. In act, the 1991 medical certiication o Dr. Obra points to the
contrary or it states that Romagos va, go bac/ to ror/ proided that she will come back or
check up as scheduled. 1his iew is bolstered by other documents o record, such as
Romagos school transcripts, indicating that rom 1980 to 1995 the latter took a graduate
course in business administration at the Southwestern Uniersity. Such endeaor negates the
notion that rom the time o her irst diagnosis in 1989 to the time o her separation in 1999,
Romagos was suering rom a mental impediment to work.

Another eidence o Romagos` continuing capacity to work despite her mental
condition is her perormance ratings or 1996 and 1998, copies o which are o record. In
both ealuations, Romagos` work perormance was rated ery satisactory.`

More telling is the August 20, 1999 medical certiication issued by Dr. Obra which
categorically declared petitioner physically and vevtatt, fit to go bac/ to ror/.

\hile there is no question that at the time she was dropped rom the rolls, Romagos
was suering rom a protracted mental disorder, the same did not render her incapable o
perorming her work. 1here was thereore an incomplete cause or justiication to drop her
rom the rolls.

Romagos's separation from the service invalid

Romagos is entitled to reinstatement to her ormer position with payment o
backwages computed in accordance with our ruling in atavga. tate |virer.it, r. ovifacio, ri.:

1he Court o Appeals correctly ordered respondent`s reinstatement.
loweer, the award o backwages and other monetary beneits should not be
limited to 5 years and must thereore be modiied in line with the recent case
o Cirit errice Covvi..iov r. Cevtattav. \e held in said case that an illegally
dismissed goernment employee who is later ordered reinstated is entitled to
backwages ava otber vovetar, bevefit. frov tbe tive of ber ittegat ai.vi..at v to ber
reiv.tatevevt. 1his is only air and just because an employee who is reinstated
ater haing been illegally dismissed is considered as not haing let her oice
and should be gien the corresponding compensation at the time o her
reinstatement.