LEPARTO-YANGZON, Lynn Marie D.
Re: Query; Study Leave
x-----------------------------------------------x

 

RESOLUTION NO. 020711

 

            Lynn Marie D. Leparto-Yangzon, Stenographic Reporter II, Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), Makati City, in a letter dated March 21, 2002, and received by the Commission on March 22, 2002, requests clarification on the coverage/applicability of Section 68, CSC Memorandum Circular No. 14, s. 1998, as amended (study leave privilege).

            In her letter, Yangzon stated as follows:

            "I am a Stenographic Reporter II in the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG). I am a graduate in Nursing. I now intend to take the board examination for nurses this coming June 2 – 3, 2002, and am currently enrolled at the East West Educational Specialist for my review from February 23 to May 31, 2002.

            "According to said circular, the program is available to all officials/employees not only for those who would take the BAR but also for those who would take the Board examinations as long as they meet the CSC requirements. I am glad to state that I qualified for all the conditions set herein except for one that needs further elucidation: the portion that required relevance of the applicant’s study to his/her agency or to his/her official duties and responsibilities.

            "At first glance a study in Nursing may not have a bearing on my official duties and responsibilities in the Office of the Solicitor General. However, the very act of reviewing and taking the board gives an individual the patience, the discipline, and most importantly, the confidence that will consequently benefit his/her overall performance. A self-assured employee certainly works diligently and enthusiastically thereby contributing his/her own brand of professionalism in the agency. Some would say that this is just another case of ‘stretched interpretation,’ but I am fully convinced that a self-fulfilled person not only brings out the best in him/her but also brings out the best in others.

            Pertinent in the resolution of the instant query is Section 68, Rule XVI, Omnibus Rules on Leave (CSC Memorandum Circular No. 41, s.1998, as amended):

            "Section 68. Study Leave. Officials and employees, excluding those in the teaching profession who are covered by different provisions of law, may be entitled to study leave subject to the following conditions:

‘a. The study leave is a time-off from work not exceeding six (6) months with pay for the purpose of assisting the qualified officials and employees to prepare for their bar or board examinations or to complete their masteral degree. The leave shall be covered by a contract between the beneficiary and the agency head or his representative.

‘b. The beneficiary for such leave shall be selected based on the following qualification requirements:

‘1) The official/employee must have graduated with a bachelor’s degree which consequently requires the passing of government bar and board licensure examinations. For thesis writing or comprehensive examination, the official/employee must have completed all the academic requirements for a masteral degree.

‘2 The profession or field of study to be pursued must be relevant to the agency or to all the official duties and responsibilities of the concerned official or employee.

‘3 Must be a permanent employee.

‘4 Must have rendered at least two years of service with at least very satisfactory performance for the last two rating periods immediately preceding the application.

‘5 Must have no pending administrative and criminal charges.

‘6 Must not have any current foreign or local scholarship grant

‘7 Must have fulfilled the service obligation of any previous scholarship and training contract.’"

            Thus, in order for an employee to be qualified to avail of the study leave, he or she must have complied with all the requisites stated above.

            In the instant case, Yangzon represents that she meets all the requirements for her to avail of the study leave privilege, except that stated under item no. b (2) of the above-quoted Section 68, i.e. "The profession or field of study to be pursued must be relevant to the agency or to the official duties and responsibilities of the concerned official or employee." Yangzon states that she graduated with a degree in Nursing but the position she currently holds is that of a Stenographic Reporter II at the office of the Solicitor General.

            The issue to be resolved is whether Yangzon may be allowed to avail of the study leave privilege granted under Section 68 of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 41, s. 1998, as amended, in order to take the Professional Board Examination for Nurses notwithstanding that she is currently holding the position of Stenographic Reporter II at the Office of the Solicitor General. In other words, whether a degree in Nursing may be considered relevant in the performance of the functions of a Stenographic Reporter II, to qualify said board examination among the examinations covered by the study leave privilege.

            At the outset, it may be said that a degree in Nursing is a far cry from the position of Stenographic Reporter II. The exercise of the nursing profession, which is more on the medical side, is very remote from the duties and functions of one appointed as Stenographic Reporter, which is more on the legal-clerical side. Strictly speaking, therefore, a nurse by profession cannot practice as such while retaining his or her position as Stenographic Reporter II, and vice versa.

            Following this line of thought, it need not be further stressed that to allow Yangzon to avail of the study leave privilege would be to defeat the qualification requirements set forth by the Commission under Section 68 of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 41, s. 1998, as amended. This is because Yangzon’s degree in Nursing, including her consequent taking of the Board Examination therefor, will not work to comply with the "relevance to the job" requirement stated under said memorandum circular.

            However, a conservative adherence to the literal import of a particular provision is not always the general rule. There may be instances when an equitable construction may be adopted in order to accomplish a greater purpose. These are instances when the interest of justice calls for a liberal interpretation of a given law or rule.

            Liberal construction is that construction which expands the meaning of a statute to meet cases which are clearly within the spirit or reason thereof, or within the evil which the statute was designed to remedy, or which gives a statute its generally accepted meaning to the end that the most comprehensive application thereof may be accorded without being inconsistent with its language or doing violence to any of its terms. In short, liberal construction means that the words should receive a fair and reasonable interpretation, so as to attain the intent, spirit and purpose of the law.1

            The Commission finds that a liberal interpretation of Section 68 of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 41, s. 1998, as amended, is warranted in the herein case of Leparto-Yangzon in order to better serve the purpose of such rule and ultimately, promote justice.

            True, a degree in Nursing has no direct bearing to the job of a Stenographic Reporter, however, it may have relevance to the agency. It is to be noted that the provision used the disjunctive "or".

            Further, it must be emphasized that when the Commission decided to provide aspiring professionals this grant, it had in mind not only the public benefit the agency will derive in terms of the professional services the employee shall render. Equally important is the personal and professional growth of an employee in having another opportunity to pursue further his/her dreams, without having to worry about her/his means of livelihood for the period that he/she will not be reporting for work.

            It then becomes easy to see that the reason behind the study leave privilege is to encourage government employees to seek professional advancement – worry-free. In the pursuit of such, the grant seeks to assist them by allowing them to devote their full time and attention to the intricacies of the bar or board examination that they are going to hurdle. Ultimately, the study leave grant’s proximate objective is the professionalization of the bureaucracy, which beneficial effects shall redound to the best interest of both parties, i.e. the agency-grantor as well as the employee-grantee concerned.

            Putting the foregoing considerations to fore, the Commission finds sufficient basis to hold that a Nursing Graduate employed as Stenographic Reporter II may be allowed to avail of the study leave privilege. Corollarily, a degree in nursing, taken from a liberal perspective, may be deemed as substantially compliant with the requirement under Section 68 of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 41, s. 1998, as amended that, The profession of field of study to be pursued must be relevant to the agency or to the official duties and responsibilities of the official or employee concerned.

            All the foregoing notwithstanding, it has to be emphasized that the grant of study leave is subject to the discretion of the head of agency based on the dictates of the exigencies of the service. Privilegia resipriunt largan interpretationen voluntati consonan concedentis. Privileges are to be interpreted in accordance with the will of him who grants them. Hence, still of paramount consideration in the approval of applications for availment of study leave is the greater interest of the service to be determined with the circumspection by the head of agency concerned.

            WHEREFORE, the Commission hereby rules that Lynn Marie D. Leparto-Yangzon, Stenographic Reporter II at the Office of the Solicitor General, Makati City, may be allowed to avail of the study leave grant under Section 68 of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 41, s. 1998, as amended, provided all the other requirements stated in said circular are complied with. Provided, further that approval of her application shall be at the discretion of the head of agency, in this case the Solicitor General.

            Quezon City, MAY 16 2002

 



  (Signed)
KARINA CONSTANTINO-DAVID
Chairman
(Signed)
JOSE F. ERESTAIN, JR.
Commissioner
   
   
ON LEAVE
J. WALDEMAR V. VALMORES
Commissioner
 
Attested by:


(Signed)
ARIEL G. RONQUILLO
Director III



1AGPALO, Ruben E., Statutory Construction, 1995 ed., p.223, citing Crescent City v. Griffin ,87 P2d 414; Laurence v. McCalmont, 43 US 426,11 L.ed.316