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SC affirms dismissal of 3 PEA officials in Macapagal Blvd project

- Edu Punay -

MANILA, Philippines – Three officials of the Public Estates Authority (PEA) implicated in the alleged overpricing of the President Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard in Pasay City are dismissed from the service, the Supreme Court (SC) has ruled.

The SC dismissed the consolidated petitions of PEA assistant general manager Jaime Millan, deputy manager for finance, legal and administration Theron Lacson, and department general manager Bernardo Viray to reverse a September 2004 ruling of the Court of Appeals (CA) upholding the dismissal order of the Office of the President.

“In sum, the removal from office of petitioners was valid,” read the SC decision.

“PEA dismissed them for cause and in accordance with the requisites of due process.”

The CA upheld the order of the Office of the President upon the recommendation of the now defunct Presidential Anti-Graft Commission (PAGC) to dismiss the petitioners and impose upon them the accessory penalties of forfeiture of retirement benefits and disqualification from employment in the government service.

The SC rejected the claim of petitioners of violation of their right to due process and security of tenure.

The petitioners said the PEA board of directors merely relied on the findings of PAGC.

However, the SC said the petitioners were given the opportunity to be heard in the course of PAGC’s investigation.

“Nevertheless, the right to security of tenure is not tantamount to immunity from dismissal,” read the SC decision.

“Petitioners cannot seek absolute protection from this constitutional provision. As long as their dismissal is for a legal cause and the requirements of due process were met, the law will not prevent their removal from office.”

The SC did not give credence to petitioners’ argument that the Office of the Ombudsman, not the PAGC, has jurisdiction to investigate and recommend their dismissal from the service, being career service officers.

It has repeatedly ruled that the power of the ombudsman to investigate offenses involving public officials is not exclusive but concurrent with other similar government agencies, the SC said.

BERNARDO VIRAY

COURT OF APPEALS

JAIME MILLAN

OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

PASAY CITY

PETITIONERS

PRESIDENT DIOSDADO MACAPAGAL BOULEVARD

PRESIDENTIAL ANTI-GRAFT COMMISSION

PUBLIC ESTATES AUTHORITY

SUPREME COURT

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