ARGAŅOSA, Ma. Shirleen L.
Re: Dropped from the Rolls; Appeal
RESOLUTION NO. 020554
Ma. Shirleen L. Argaņosa, Information Systems Analyst II, Information Systems Operation Service, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Quezon City, appeals the Order dated January 30, 2001 of the Civil Service Commission-National Capital Region (CSC-NCR), Quezon City, which dismissed her appeal from the Decision of then BIR Commissioner Beethoven L. Rualo dropping her from the rolls effective February 12, 1999 due to absences without official leave (AWOL). The material portions of the assailed Order read, as follows:
"As clearly provided for under Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 41, s. 1998, an application for leave, either filed before or after the date one has incurred absences, is necessary in order that a person may not be declared on an absence without official leave (AWOL). Moreover, Civil Service Commission Memorandum No. 14, s. 1999, which amended Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 41, s. 1998, declares that the approval of sick leave is mandatory provided that proof of sickness or disability is attached to the application. However, mere submission of a medical certificate does not at all dispense with the requirement that an application for sick leave should be filed.
"The Monthly Summary report of Attendance shows that Argaņosa did not report for the whole month of September and October. On October 20, 1998, a Memorandum, signed by Assistant Commissioner Alberto Pio Roda, Information Systems Operations Service, was sent to Argaņosa informing her of the prolonged absences and requiring her to report to work and to file the corresponding leave of absence. Apparently, this Memorandum was sent thru Dr. Venus Ibarra at San Pablo Colleges. Argaņosa, however, represented that the same was only received sometime during the last week of November, 1999. It was only then that she requested her husband to file her leave form with the medical certificates.
x x x
"Thus, notwithstanding the fact that the memorandum sent to Argaņosa was sent to the wrong address and received late, Argaņosa had already incurred absences for more than thirty days without filing the necessary leave application. Consequently, her dropping from the rolls was justified.
"Although the sickness of Argaņosa rendered her unable to file personally her leave application, it does not exempt her from the requirements of the rule. In other words, her application for leave may have been filed by persons other than Argaņosa in order that notice may have been served to her Office.
"It appears that Argaņosa submitted several medical certificates issued by Dr. Marilyn M. Garcia of the Los Baņos Doctors Hospital, Inc., College, Laguna, covering the period from August 25, 1998 to December 31, 1998. In the said medical certificates, Argaņosa, was advised, respectively, to have complete bed rest on the following dates due to threatened abortion, to wit: August 25-September 7, 1998, September 8-30, 1998; October 6-23, 1998; and October 26-November 21, 1998. In the medical Certificate dated December 3, 1998, Argaņosa was diagnosed for Placenta Previa Partialis and was advised to have complete bed rest from November 5 to December 31, 1998.
"On the other hand, Deputy Commissioner Estelita Aguirre of the BIR submitted a photocopy of the Monthly Summary Report of Attendance of their employees from September 1998 to February 1999. The said report yielded the following results: Argaņosa, Ma. Shirleen
September, 1998 --------------- 22 days absent
(remarks: not yet filed A/L)
October, 1998 --------------- 21 days absent
November, 1998 --------------- 19 days absent
December, 1998 --------------- 20 days absent
January, 1999 --------------- 20 days absent
February, 1999 --------------- No entry
For Dropping from the
Appellant Argaņosa anchors her appeal on the following grounds:
"The National Capital Region Office erred in arriving at the same conclusion as the Bureau of Internal Revenue because it did not re-examine the facts, law and evidence relevant to the case.
In arriving at its conclusion, the National Capital Region Office cited Civil Service Commission Resolution No. 98-1489 (De la Cruz, Cesar R.). This is not applicable in the case of appellant. In the case cited, De la Cruz submitted medical certificates dated long after he was dropped from the rolls. In contrast to the case of appellant she has medical certificates dated August 25-September 7, 1998; September 8-30, 1998; October 6-23, 1998 and October 26-November 21, 1998. In the medical certificate dated December 03, 1998, she was diagnosed for Placenta Previa Patialis and was advised to have complete bed rest from November 5 to December 31, 1998. All these medical certificates were taken note of by the Regional Office, however, it disregarded the dates and did not take into consideration that they were all dated before she was dropped from the rolls and not after as in the case of De la Cruz, Cesar R.
"The Regional Office ignored the fact that when she received the letter advising her to file the corresponding sick leave she immediately sent her husband to the office to file the corresponding sick leave but it was refused despite the fact that she has medical certificates. In CSC Resolution No. 98-1924 dated July 17, 1998 (Montances, Delfin L) the CSC ruled that:
xxx. It must be emphasized that the approval of an application for sick leave is ministerial or mandatory on the part of the head of office for as long as said application is duly supported by a medical certificate. However, the head of office may disapprove said application when there is strong evidence that said medical certificate is a fabrication and that the applicant for said leave of absence was not actually sick.
"Here, the appellant was actually sick and was advised to have complete bed rest as shown in her medical certificates.
"Moreover, the National Capital Region Office ignored the fact that her situation is known to her chief as she was informed by the appellant. When she suffered bleeding, she was at the office at that time. From time to time she has been calling to inform the office of her situation. The office is informed of her whereabouts. And although she has residence address at her 201 file, the letter advising her to file the corresponding leave was sent to a wrong address which caused the delay in the receipt thereof.
"WHEREFORE, the foregoing premises considered, it is respectfully prayed of this Honorable Office, that it sets aside or reverses the order of the National Capital Region Office dismissing the appeal and renders a new Order re-instating the appellant to her position with full benefits and backwages."
Upon receipt of the appeal of Argaņosa on February 26, 2001, the Commission in its Order dated April 02, 2001 directed CSC-NCR to submit its comment and the pertinent documents on the said appeal within ten (10) days from notice. However, CSC-NCR failed to comply with the said Order up to this date. Hence, the appeal will be resolved based on available records.
Records show that on August 24, 1998, Argaņosa, while in office, suffered bleeding due to her pregnancy. She consulted her physician about her condition and was diagnosed to have Placenta Previa Patialis, an abnormal implantation of the placenta at or near the internal opening of the uterine cervix so that it tends to precede the child at birth usually causing severe maternal hemorrhage (Webster Third New International Dictionary, 1976 Edition, p.1728). She did not report for work from September 1 to October 31, 1998. In a memorandum dated October 20, 1998 BIR Assistant Commissioner Alberto A. Pio De Roda directed her to report for work and to file the corresponding application for leave of absence. Otherwise, she will be dropped from the rolls of the BIR. The said memorandum reads, as follows:
"You are hereby reminded of your prolonged absences as follows: 23 absences for September and from October 1 up to present without filing the necessary approved application for leave. In this regard, you are hereby directed to report for work within three (3) days upon receipt hereof and to file the corresponding application for leave of absence, otherwise, you will be dropped from the rolls of this Bureau pursuant to Section 35 VI, MC No. 12 s. 1994 of the Civil Service Law and Rules."
Argaņosa received the above memorandum only sometime in November 1998. Upon receipt of the memorandum, she immediately requested her husband to go to her office and file her leave application with the medical certificates. However, Arganosa's immediate supervisor refused to receive her leave application and instead told her husband to inform her to file her resignation effective January 1999. On December 06, 1998, Argaņosa wrote a letter to then BIR Commissioner Rualo seeking humanitarian consideration on her case. However, she did not receive any response from then BIR Commissioner Rualo. On March 02, 1999, a memorandum was issued by Adelina C. Ramos, Assistant Chief Personnel Division to the Chief of the Accounting Division, same office, stopping the payment of Argaņosa's salary on the ground that she has been dropped from the rolls effective February 12, 1999. Said Memorandum is hereunder quoted, as follows:
"Ms. MA. SHIRLEEN L. ARGAŅOSA, who is assigned in Information Systems Operations Service, this Bureau, and who is occupying the position of Information Systems Analyst II at P146,472.00 per annum has been dropped from the rolls effective February 12, 1999."
In March 1999, Argaņosa, reported to office and was informed that she was already dropped from the rolls. She was further given copies of the memorandum dated February 12, 1999 issued by BIR Assistant Commissioner Pio De Roda which recommended that Argaņosa be dropped from the rolls due to her prolonged absences and memorandum dated March 02, 1999 issued by Adelina C. Ramos. After giving birth sometime in April 1999, Argaņosa wrote a letter to the Commission complaining about her being dropped from the rolls. The same was referred to the CSC-NCR pursuant to Section 6B(3), Rule I, Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service [CSC Resolution No. 99-1936 dated August 31, 1999]. An Order dated January 30, 2001 was subsequently promulgated by CSC-NCR affirming the dropping of the rolls of Argaņosa. Hence, the instant appeal.
The pivotal issue in this case is whether there is a valid ground to drop Argaņosa from the rolls.
Relevant to the instant appeal is Section 2, Rule XII of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 15, s. 1999 (Additional Provisions and Amendments to CSC Memorandum Circular No. 40, s. 1998) which provides that:
"Sec. 2 Dropping from the Rolls. Officers and employees who are either habitually absent or have unsatisfactory or poor performance or have shown to be physically and mentally unfit to perform their duties may be dropped from the rolls subject to the following procedures.
"a. An officer or employee who is continuously absent without approved leave (AWOL) for at least thirty (30) WORKING days shall be separated from the service or dropped from the rolls without prior notice. He shall, however, be informed of his separation from the service not later than five (5) days from its effectivity which shall be sent to the address appearing on his 201 files OR TO HIS LAST KNOWN ADDRESS.
"b. If the number of unauthorized absences incurred is less than thirty (30) WORKING days, a written Return-to-Work order shall be served on the official or employee at his last known address on record. Failure on his part to report for work within the period stated in the order shall have a valid ground to drop him from the rolls."
The validity of Argaņosas dropping from the rolls hinges on whether she incurred continuous absences of at least thirty (30) working days. As borne out by the records, Argaņosa has been reporting to office erratically since the time she experienced bleeding on August 24, 1998. In September and October 1998, the appellant failed to report to office because she was ordered by her physician to have a complete bed rest. The periods in which Argaņosa was advised by her physician to have a complete bed rest are shown in the submitted medical certificates. These are as follows: 1) from August 25, 1998 to September 07, 1998; 2) from September 08,1998 to September 30, 1998; 3) from October 06, 1998 to October 23, 1998 and 4) from October 26, 1998 to November 21, 1998. In another medical certificate dated December 03, 1998, Argaņosa was further advised to have another complete bed rest up to December 31, 1998.
Argaņosa contends that she did not file her sick leave application since she relied on the fact that she and her husband informed her office about her condition through the telephone. The BIR did not rebut this allegation.
In the light of foregoing facts and circumstances, it is undisputed that Argaņosas office is cognizant of her illness. Furthermore, there is no showing that Argaņosa simulated her illness. Thus, Argaņosa cannot be accused of having been absent without an approved sick leave, for how can Argaņosa be expected to report to work and perform her regular duties and functions if her illness prevented her to do so. In the case of Carolina D. Muyco, CSC Resolution No. 96-4175 dated July 09, 1996, the Commission similarly ruled, as follows:
"Such being the case, Muyco cannot thus be faulted for having been absent despite the disapproval of her application for sick leave. For how could she be expected to report for work and perform her regular duties and other assigned tasks if she is indeed sick and physically incapable of doing the same. x x x . The situation was aggravated when Muyco was dropped from the rolls which was confirmed by CSRO No. XII on October 21, 1992."
Moreover, the CSC-NCR erred in applying the case of Cesar R. De la Cruz (CSC Resolution No. 98-1489 dated June 16, 1998) to the case of Argaņosa. It must be noted that the former was dropped from the rolls due to the fact that he was not physically incapacitated to file his leave of absence and the medical certificate submitted to support his continuous absences without an approved leave was submitted only on April 26, 1996 after he was considered on AWOL by Mayor Malonzo on March 28, 1996. In the case of Argaņosa, she was physically incapacitated to file a sick leave application due to her illness and was advised by her physician to have a complete bed rest. As for the submission of medical certificate, the records show that such certificate was to the sick leave application filed on her behalf by her husband sometime in November 1998.
The approval of an application for leave of absence due to illness is a ministerial duty on the part of the head of office. The only exception would be if the head of office entertains doubts on the employee's claim of illness. In such case, the head of office should verify the veracity of the employee's claim. This has been the ruling of the Commission in the case of Pedro H. Duran, CSC Resolution No. 99-2363 dated October 14, 1999, pertinent portion of which reads, as follows:
"x x x when a sick leave of absence is filed by an employee, the head of office does not have any other choice but to grant the same. In which case, it becomes now a ministerial duty on the part of the agency to grant the application for sick leave, the only exception, is when the head of agency entertains doubt on the employees claim of ill health. In such case, it is incumbent upon the head of agency to determine or verify the veracity of the employees claim of ill health. On the other hand, leave of absence for any other reason than illness of an officer or employee is discretionary on the part of the head of agency to approve the same."
Lastly, since Argaņosa's illness prevented her from filing her application for sick leave of absence, she should be allowed to file the same upon her return to office.
This finds support in Section 53, Rule XVI of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of Executive Order No. 292, which reads, as follows:
"Sec. 53. Application for sick leave. All application for sick leave of absence for one full day or more shall be made on the prescribed form and shall be filed immediately upon employees return from such leave. Notice of absence, however, should be sent to the immediate supervisor and/or to the agency head. Application for sick leave in excess of five (5) successive days shall be accompanied by a proper medical certificate." (Underscoring supplied)
Corollary thereto is the ruling of the Commission in the case of Genevieve C. Taeza, CSC Resolution No. 98-1289 dated May 27, 1998, the material portion of which reads, as follows:
"In view of the foregoing, the Commission finds that notwithstanding appellants failure to file sick leave application covering the period of 8 October 1997 until 13 November 1997, she could not be considered AWOL. During that period, she was physically incapacitated to file the same due to her illness. In a number of occasions, the Commission has ruled that when the illness of an employee renders him physically incapacitated, he may file the sick leave application upon his return." (Underscoring supplied)
WHEREFORE, the appeal of Ma. Shirleen L. Argaņosa is hereby GRANTED. Accordingly, the Order dated January 31, 2001 of CSC-NCR is hereby set aside. The Bureau of Internal Revenue, Quezon City, is directed to reinstate Argaņosa to her former position with payment of backwages and other benefits from February 12, 1999 when she was dropped from the rolls up to the date of her reinstatement.
Quezon City, APR 16 2002
JOSE F. ERESTAIN, JR.
J. WALDEMAR V. VALMORES