Republic of the Philippines
G.R. No. L-47346             April 8, 1941
FRANCISCO B. REYES, appellant,
JAIME HERNANDEZ, in his capacity as Auditor General of the Philippines, appellee.
Consolador Reyes Palad and Horacio M. Abdon for appellant.
Office of the Solicitor-General Ozaeta and Solicitor Arguelles for appellee.
The appellant here, Francisco B. Reyes, was a justice of the peace of Talacogon, Agusan, who, by order of January 28, 1935, was temporarily suspended from office by the Secretary of Justice. In view of this order of suspension, the appellant ceased to discharge his duties as justice of the peace from February 7, 1935, until he was definitely separated from the service on November 14, 1936, in view of the appointment and qualification of his successor in virtue of section 4, Article XV, of the Constitution of the Philippines. He presented a claim for the payment of his salary during the period of his suspension which was disallowed by the appellee, as Auditor General of the Philippines, on the ground that, under section 260 of the Revised Administrative Code, payment of salary accruing during the period of suspension could only be made "upon subsequent reinstatement of the suspended person or upon his exoneration, if death should render reinstatement impossible." This is now an appeal from that decision of the Auditor General.
It appears from the order of January 28, 1935, of the Secretary of Justice that the appellant was suspended from office because the charges preferred against him "have been substantiated by the evidence adduced during the investigation" pending final action by the Governor-General. If no final action was taken in the administrative case against him, it was because of the appointment and qualification of his successor pursuant to the aforesaid transitory provisions of the Constitution. The appointment of his successor was the indirect removal of the appellant, and it is beyond question that this action of the Chief Executive is neither reinstatement nor exoneration of the appellant The fact that subsequently the application of the appellant for retirement gratuity under Commonwealth Act No. 331 was favorably recommended by the Undersecretary of Justice in his indorsement of January 21, 1939, may tend to prove incongruity of official action but does not fill the void created on account of the failure to order the reinstatement or exoneration required in section 260 of the Revised Administrative Code. As a general proposition, a public official is not entitled to any compensation if he has not rendered any service, and the justification for the payment of salary during the period of suspension is that the suspension was unjustified or that the official was innocent. Hence, the requirement that, to entitle to payment of salary during suspension, there must be either reinstatement of the suspended person or exoneration if death should render reinstatement impossible.
The appeal is hereby dismissed, with costs against the appellant. So ordered.
Avanceña, C.J., Imperial, Diaz, and Horrilleno, JJ., concur.
MORAN, J., dissenting:
Appellant Francisco B. Reyes, who had been justice of the peace of Talacogon, Agusan, since January, 1920, was temporarily suspended from office on February 7, 1935, by the Secretary of Justice by reason of certain administrative charges preferred against him. On November 14, 1936, the President appointed appellant's successor in virtue of section 4, Article XV, of the Constitution. On January 21, 1939, the Department of Justice approved appellant's application for retirement gratuity stating that "his services were faithful and satisfactory." His claim for payment of his salary during the period of his suspension was, however, disallowed by the Auditor General on the ground that, under section 260 of the Revised Administrative Code, payment of salary during the period of suspension can only be made "upon subsequent reinstatement of the suspended person, or upon his exoneration, if death should render his reinstatement impossible."
It should be observed, at the outset, that appellant's suspension was not in accordance with law. Under sections 228 and 229 of the Revised Administrative Code, the Judge of First Instance of the District, not the Secretary of Justice, has the power to decree his temporary suspension.
Besides, apart from having been decreed by an officer not authorized by law, such suspension was founded upon charges which have never been definitely substantiated at all. The Chief Executive who is the only authority vested by law with the power to make final pronouncement on the case of the appellant has, up to the present, never made any adjudication thereon, much less any definite pronouncement of guilt. In the eyes of the law, appellant, therefore, remains innocent of the charges preferred against him.
True it is that in the letter of the Secretary of Justice, a statement is made to the effect that the charges against the appellant "have been substantiated by the evidence adduced during the investigation." But the investigation referred to therein is only of preliminary character and constitutes no final adjudication of guilt; and, even if such statement can be taken to mean a pronouncement of guilt, it can produce no legal effect because it was made by officer not authorized by law to render a decision on the case.
The appointment of appellant's successor pursuant to the transitory provision of the Constitution cannot be construed as a removal consequent upon a finding of guilt because, as elsewhere adverted to, no such finding has been made by the Chief Executive. On the other hand, considering that appellant's suspension was illegal; that in the eyes of the law he remains innocent of the charges against him, not having been definitely adjudged guilty by appropriate authority; that, on the contrary, after his suspension, appellant's petition for retirement gratuity was approved upon the ground that his services had been faithful and satisfactory, he may, under such circumstances, be deemed to have been virtually exonerated, at least for the purpose of authorizing the payment of his salary during the period of his suspension. And if appellant cannot be reinstated after the appointment of his successor, it was for no reason in connection with the charges against him, but as a result of the operation of the Constitution, appellant not being a member of the Bar. The impossibility of his reinstatement for the cause stated is, therefore, as effective as death within the meaning of the law. To stretch the logic of the case to the extent of requiring a literal exoneration of the appellant is to take the shadow for the substance of true justice.
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