EJAR, Evelyn N.
Re: Query; Board of Election Inspectors;
Grant of Additional Leave Credits
RESOLUTION NO. 020489
Evelyn N. Ejar, Senior Personnel Specialist and Officer-in-Charge, Civil Service Commission (CSC)-Aklan Provincial Office, requests a legal opinion on the Resolution adopted by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) granting an additional five-day leave credit to government employees who served as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) during the last May 14, 2001 election.
The COMELEC Resolution above adverted to (Resolution numbered 4434, s. 2001) reads pertinently, as follows:
"This pertains to the Letter dated 17 May 2001 of Concerned Government Employees who served as BEIs in the May 14, 2001 elections requesting for five (5) day leave credits as granted to teachers and other DECS personnel rendering the same services.
x x x
"In Minute Resolution No. 4062, promulgated on 1 May 2001, the Commission recommended the grant of 5-day leave credits to BEIs and other DECS personnel as follows:
x x x
‘5. To recommend to the DECS the following:
`a. To grant a five (5)- day leave credits for each day of election service to members of the BEIs and other DECS personnel;’
x x x
"Considering that government employees likewise served and risked their lives acting as members of the BEIs, Poll Clerk and Third Member, the Commission RESOLVED, as it hereby RESOLVES, to request the Departments/Offices concerned to grant 5-days leave credits for each day of election service to government employees under their department who served as BEIs during the elections."
There is at once a procedural issue that immediately arrests attention. The COMELEC and this Commission are both constitutional bodies of equal and coordinate standing. Thus, one cannot pass upon or subject to its review the legality or propriety of the act of the other without trampling or encroaching upon the enshrined equality and independence of the two bodies. Moreover, decisions and issuances of the COMELEC, such as the one at bar, lie outside the pale of jurisdiction of this Commission since the Constitution itself vests exclusive revisory power over COMELEC actions with the Supreme Court.
Necessarily, pending determination by the High Court of the legality of the COMELEC Resolution in issue, the same enjoys the presumption of validity as it was deemed to have been promulgated by the COMELEC in the regular course of official functions.
Until such time that a judicial declaration is forthcoming, this Commission is constrained to abide by the provisions of the COMELEC Resolution.
Nonetheless, it is worth noting that the phraseology of the COMELEC Resolution does not actually require or mandate the additional grant of a five-day leave credit. Stripped down to its bare essentials, the Resolution only speaks of the intent of the COMELEC to intercede with and request concerned government agencies or offices to award extra leave credits to their employees, who served as BEIs during the last national election. It appears, however, that whether qualified employees shall get the concession is ultimately addressed to the sound discretion of the heads of agencies concerned. It bears stressing though, that there is nothing in the CSC Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 41, s. 1998, as amended, or the Revised Omnibus Rules on Leave, that grants such additional five-day leave credits in view of services during an election. The closest approximation that may be had is the application of the compensatory service as provided under Section 30 of CSC MC No. 14, s. 1999 which provides:
"Sec. 30. Computation of leave for employees observing flexible working hours. Employees observing flexible working hours who render less than the usual eight (8) hours of work per day but complete the forty (40) hours of work in a week shall be deducted from their leave credits only the number of hours required to be served for a day but which was not served. Any absence incurred must be charged in proportion to the number of hours required for a day’s work. The number of hours to be served for a day refers not to the eight (8) regular hours but to the number of hours covered by the core hours prescribed in the agency concerned.
"Compensatory service may be availed of outside of the regular working hours, except Sundays, to offset non-attendance or undertimes during the regular office hours subject to the written approval of the agency’s proper official. Each government office shall formulate its own internal regulations for this purpose." (Underscoring supplied)
The rule on compensatory service alluded to above, which is an integral element of the liberal flexi-time policy is designed to allow government officials or employees to make up for their absences and undertimes by reporting for work on some other days, save Sundays. The rule expressly speaks of compensating for absences or undertimes, but there is nothing to preclude the same from being applied in analogous cases. Thus, once a public official or employee had rendered services beyond the scope of his regular duties, such as the case at bar, he may be allowed to go on some days off, as an off-setting measure, subject to the written approval of the agency head and internal rules adopted for the purpose. While there is no prescribed limit for the number of days that may be availed of in the event of a compensatory service since the same is left to the prerogative of the office, its duration must be reasonable and must not unduly prejudice the public service. It bears stressing though the number of days so granted must have the prior imprimatur of the Commission.
Parenthetically, it is a different matter altogether with respect to the extra five-day leave credits accorded to public school teachers rendering electoral duties. Section 9 of the above-mentioned CSC circular, provides the legal basis for the same, when it states that teachers are entitled to "teachers’ vacation service credits or leave credits earned exclusively by them for services rendered on activities, during summer or Christmas vacation, as authorized by proper authority".
WHEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Commission holds the view that while COMELEC Resolution No. 4434, s. 2001, bears the stamp of regularity, it being promulgated by the COMELEC in the course of its official duties, the matter of five-day additional leave credits espoused therein finds no legal support in existing leave laws and rules. This notwithstanding, the said extra leave credits may be treated in the nature of a compensatory leave.
Quezon City, APR 04 2002
JOSE F. ERESTAIN, JR.
J. WALDEMAR V. VALMORES