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SC clears labor chief

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz was cleared of any liability for paying P1,740,124.08 in back salaries to an employee of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) convicted almost 10 years ago.

The Supreme Court (SC) ruled that the Commission on Audit (COA) gravely abused its discretion in making Baldoz personally liable for the payment of salaries and benefits of Leonel Labrador.

“It is a standing rule that every public official is entitled to the presumption of good faith in the discharge of official duties, such that in the absence of any proof that a public officer has acted with malice or bad faith, he should not be charged with personal liability for damages that may result from the performance of an official duty,” read the SC decision.

The liability for refund cannot be imposed upon Baldoz since she had no knowledge or any reasonable indication that the payment of salaries to Labrador was improper, the SC said.

Baldoz welcomed the SC decision.

Labrador, former chief of the POEA’s Employment Services Regulation Division, was  found guilty of bribery and dismissed from the service on orders of then Labor Secretary Leonardo Quisumbing.

Despite his conviction and his being under probation, Labrador continued to work at the POEA and received salaries and benefits.

When then POEA administrator Baldoz received a copy of the Sandiganbayan resolution that Labrador’s application for probation was erroneously granted, she immediately ordered his separation from the service in March 2004.

A year later, the COA declared that the salaries and benefits paid to Labrador were the personal liability of Baldoz, who sought SC intervention.

Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe wrote the decision.

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE ESTELA PERLAS-BERNABE

BALDOZ

EMPLOYMENT SERVICES REGULATION DIVISION

LABOR SECRETARY LEONARDO QUISUMBING

LABOR SECRETARY ROSALINDA BALDOZ

LABRADOR

LEONEL LABRADOR

PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS EMPLOYMENT ADMINISTRATION

SALARIES

SANDIGANBAYAN

SUPREME COURT

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