Sunday, October 13, 2013

Case Digest: G.R. No. 78239 February 9, 1989

Salvacion A. Monsanto, petitioner, vs. Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., respondent.

Facts: The Sandiganbayan convicted petitioner and three other accused, of the complex crime of estafa thru falsification of public document. Petitioner appealed her conviction to the Supreme Court which subsequently affirmed the same. She then filed a motion for reconsideration but while said motion was pending, she was by then President Marcos absolute pardon. By reason of said pardon, petitioner wrote the Calbayog City treasurer requesting that she be restored to her former post as assistant city treasurer since the same was still vacant. Petitioner's letter-request was referred to the Ministry of Finance for resolution in view of the provision of the Local Government Code transferring the power of appointment of treasurers from the city governments to the said Ministry. The Finance Ministry ruled that petitioner may be reinstated to her position without the necessity of a new appointment not earlier than the date she was extended the absolute pardon. Seeking reconsideration of the foregoing ruling, petitioner wrote the Ministry stressing that the full pardon bestowed on her has wiped out the crime which implies that her service in the government has never been interrupted and therefore the date of her reinstatement should correspond to the date of her preventive suspension; that she is entitled to back pay for the entire period of her suspension; and that she should not be required to pay the proportionate share of the amount of P4, 892.50. The Ministry of Finance, however, referred petitioner's letter to the Office of the President for further review and action. Through Deputy Executive Secretary Fulgenio S. Factoran, Jr. held that acquittal, not absolute pardon, of a former public officer is the only ground for reinstatement to his former position and entitlement to payment of his salaries, benefits and emoluments due to him during the period of his suspension pendente lite and that petitioner is not entitled to an automatic reinstatement on the basis of the absolute pardon granted her but must secure an appointment to her former position and that, notwithstanding said absolute pardon, she is liable for the civil liability concomitant to her previous conviction.

Issue: Whether or not a public officer, who has been granted an absolute pardon by the Chief Executive, is entitled to reinstatement to her former position without need of a new appointment.

Ruling: There is a need to apply and undergo the usual procedure required for a new appointment. The absolute disqualification or ineligibility from public office forms part of the punishment prescribed by the Revised Penal Code for estafa thru falsification of public documents. It is clear from the authorities referred to that when her guilt and punishment were expunged by her pardon; this particular disability was likewise removed. Henceforth, petitioner may apply for reappointment to the office which was forfeited by reason of her conviction. And in considering her qualifications and suitability for the public post, the facts constituting her offense must be and should be evaluated and taken into account to determine ultimately whether she can once again be entrusted with public funds. Stated differently, the pardon granted to petitioner has resulted in removing her disqualification from holding public employment but it cannot go beyond that. To regain her former post as assistant city treasurer, she must re-apply and undergo the usual procedure required for a new appointment.

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