Posted by: Elmer Brabante | September 1, 2009

Osmundo Rama vs. Court of Appeals


OSMUNDO RAMA vs. COURT OF APPEALS

No. L-44842

March 16, 1987

 

FACTS:

                A resolution was passed by herein petitioner Rama, then Vice Governor or Cebu, with co-respondents Mandeola and Castillo, members Sangguniang Panlunsod of Cebu, to mechanize the maintenance and repair of all roads and bridges of the province, to economize in the expenditure of its Road and Bridges (R&B) Fund, etc.  To implement such policy, the Provincial Board resolved to abolish around 30 positions and 200 employees were dismissed – the salaries of whom were derived from the R&B fund.  The Local Government, however, bought heavy equipment worth 4 million pesos, hired around 1000 new employees, renovated the office of the provincial engineer and provided him with a Mercedes Benz.  

Upon petition by herein respondents (dismissed employees), the then CFI of Cebu declared said Resolution null and void and ordered the reinstatements of 56 dismissed employees and pay their back wages.  Upon appeal by both parties, then CA affirmed the lower court’s decision, plus an award of moral damages of P1000 for each of the employees, considering that the case involved quasi-delict.  The CA found that the employees were dismissed because of their different political affiliations – that they were identified with the Liberal Party of Sergio Osmeña Jr. 

ISSUE:

                Whether or not petitioners-public officials (Gov. Espina, Rama, Mendiola and Carillo) are personally liable for damages for adopting a resolution which abolished positions to the detriment of the occupants thereof. 

HELD:

                In principle, a public officer by virtue of his office alone is not immune from damages in his personal capacity arising from illegal acts done in bad faith.  A different rule sould sanction the use of public office as a tool of oppression.  [Tabuena vs. CA, 8 SCRA 413,1961]. 

                Thus, in Correa vs. CFI of Bulacan, 92 SCRA 312 (1979), a mayor was held liable for illegally dismissing a policeman even if he had relinquished his position.  The SC in that case held that a public officer who commits a tort or other wrongful act, done in excess or beyond the scope of his duty is not protected by his office and is personally liable thereof like any private individual.  This personal liability has been applied to cases where a public officer removes another officer or discharges an employee wrongfully, the reported cases saying that by reason of non-compliance with the requirements of law in respect to removal from office, the officials were acting outside their official authority. 

                The officials in these consolidated cases are personally liable for damages because their precipitate dismissal of provincial employees through an ostensibly legal means.  Such act of the petitioners of dismissing employees who are of rival political party, to recommend their own protégées who even outnumbered the dismissed employees, reflected the petitioners’ malicious intent.  Municipal officers are liable for damages if they act maliciously or wantonly, and if the work which they perform is done rather to injure an individual than to discharge a public duty.  A public officer is civilly liable for failure to observe honestly and in good faith in the performance of their duties as public officers or for willfully or negligently causing loss or injury to another (Art. 20, CC) or for willfully causing loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals, good custom and/or public policy (Art. 21, CC). 

                Dismissed employees are entitled to damages because they suffered a special and peculiar injury from the wrongful act.  The dismissed employees who were holding such positions as foreman, watchman and drivers belonged to a low-salaried group, who, if deprived of wages, would generally incur considerable economic hardships.

 

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Responses

  1. youre so cute. . . . . pakipose pa nga ng maraming cases.. . pls…

    Like


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