The Supreme Court (SC) has upheld a Court of Appeals decision ruling against a former employee of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) who was accused of bigamy and subsequently dismissed from service.
In her Petition for Review on Certiorari, the petitioner, a former secretary in the Passport Division of the DFA, assailed the CA ruling that affirmed the 5 January 2015 Decision and 28 September 2015 Resolution of the respondent Civil Service Commission-National Capital Region (CSC-NCR) dismissing her from service for the administrative offense of conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude.
Her dismissal stemmed from a complaint-affidavit filed before the CSC in September 2002 by a complainant who alleged that the petitioner and her husband contracted marriage while the complainant was still married to the latter. This prompted the complainant to file a criminal case for bigamy before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Lucena City.
The petitioner and her husband pleaded guilty, resulting to their conviction for the crime of bigamy.
In her counter-affidavit, the petitioner said that her husband asked her to marry him when she became pregnant with his child, and that she had no knowledge of his previous existing marriage when she agreed to marry him.
The petitioner further claimed that on 29 July 2004, the Labo, Camarines Norte RTC rendered a decision declaring the previous marriage of her husband null and void. Subsequently, on 24 September 2004, they contracted marriage in Tokyo, Japan.
She said she was a victim herself and that she had no criminal intent in marrying her husband and did it only for the welfare of her child.
The CSC-NCR found the petitioner guilty of the administrative offense of Conviction of a Crime of Moral Turpitude and meted the penalty of dismissal from service. The finding was affirmed by the CSC Proper.
On appeal, the CA affirmed the CSC’s rulings.
In the SC decision penned by Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando, the high court found the petition against the CA’s ruling “not meritorious.”
The court noted that the petitioner did not contest that she was guilty of both the administrative and criminal offenses. What she assailed was the CSC’s imposition of the penalty of dismissal from service based on the finding of her administrative guilt.
The SC held that the applicable rules would be CSC Resolution No. 991936, or the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service (URACCS), which provides that the administrative offense of Conviction of a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude is a grave offense punishable with dismissal from service upon first commission.
The Court held that the CA was correct in not appreciating the mitigating circumstances ― such as the length of service, first commission and outstanding performance ― that the petitioner invoked. Length of service cannot be given weight since the subject administrative offense is a grave offense punishable by dismissal from service.
“Bigamy cannot be taken lightly as its commission reflects the person’s character. It involves moral turpitude as settled in jurisprudence,” said the high court.
It added: “The petitioner flagrantly disregarded the law in marrying Modesto despite her knowledge of his prior and existing marriage; as the appellate court aptly observed, this ‘shows her moral depravity and cast[s] serious doubt on her fitness and integrity to continue in public service.’”
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