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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-23721 March 31, 1965
R. MARINO CORPUS, petitioner-appellant,
vs.
MIGUEL CUADERNO, SR., ET AL., respondents-appellants.
Juan T. David and Rosauro Alvarez for petitioner-appellant.
Nat. M. Balboa, G. B. Guevarra, F. E. Evanelista and !. B. Aneles for respondents-appellants.
REES, !.".L., J.:
Not satisfied with the decision of the Court of First nstance of Manila, in its Civil Case No. !"##$,
both the above-na%ed petitioner and respondents interposed their respective appeals to the Court of
Appeals. &he Court of Appeals, however, certified the said appeals to this Court to avoid splittin'
the%, it appearin' that, while the Court of Appeals has (urisdiction over the respondents) appeal, the
a%ount in controvers* in the petitioner)s appeal +P,-!,....../ in da%a'es and attorne*s) fees, is
be*ond the (urisdiction of the said appellate court.
&he essential facts are as follows0 1n - March "2,3, the petitioner-appellant, R. Marino Corpus,
then holdin' the position of 45pecial Assistant to the 6overnor, n Char'e of the E7port 8epart%ent4
of the Central Ban9, a position declared b* the President of the Philippines on #! :anuar* "2,- as
hi'hl* technical in nature, and ad%itted as such b* both the present liti'ants, was ad%inistrativel*
char'ed b* several e%plo*ees in the e7port depart%ent with dishonest*, inco%petence, ne'lect of
dut*, and;or abuse of authorit*, oppression, conduct unbeco%in' of a public official, and of violation
of the internal re'ulations of the Central Ban9.
1n "3 March "2,3, the Monetar* Board suspended the petitioner fro% office effective on said date
and created a three-%an investi'atin' co%%ittee co%posed of Att*. 6uiller%o de :esus, chair%an<
and Att*. Apolinar &olentino, Assistant Fiscal of the Cit* of Manila, and Professor 6erardo Florendo,
senior attorne* of the Central Ban9, %e%bers. n its final report dated , Ma* "2,2, the investi'atin'
co%%ittee, 4after %ost e7tensive hearin's in which both co%plainants and respondent were afforded
all the opportunit* to sub%it their evidence, and after a %ost e7haustive and conscientious stud* of
the records and evidence sub%itted in the case,4 %ade the followin' conclusion and
reco%%endation0
+"/ n view of the fore'oin', the Co%%ittee finds that there is no basis upon which to
reco%%end disciplinar* action a'ainst respondent, and, therefore, respectfull* reco%%ends
that he be i%%ediatel* reinstated.
Nevertheless, on #. :ul* "2,2, the Monetar* Board approved the followin' resolution0
After an e7haustive and %ature deliberation on the report of the aforesaid fact-findin'
co%%ittee in con(unction with the entire records of the case and representations of both
co%plainants and respondent, throu'h their respective counsel< and, further, after a thorou'h
review of the service record of the respondent, particularl* the various cases presented
a'ainst hi%, ob(ect of Monetar* Board Res. No. ",#- dated Au'ust =., "2,,, which all
involves fitness, discipline, etc. of respondent< and %oreover, upon for%al state%ent of the
6overnor that he has lost confidence in the respondent as 5pecial Assistant to the 6overnor
and n-Char'e of the E7port 8epart%ent +such position bein' pri%aril* confidential and
hi'hl* technical in nature/, the Monetar* Board finds that the continuance of the respondent
in the service of the Central Ban9 would be pre(udicial to the best interests of the Central
Ban9 and, therefore, in accordance with the provisions of 5ection "! of the Ban9 Charter,
considers the respondent R. Marino Corpus, resi'ned as of the date of his suspension.
Corpus %oved for the reconsideration of the above resolution, but the Board denied it, after which he
filed an action for "ertiorari, #anda#us, $uo %arranto, and da%a'es, with preli%inar* in(unction,
with the Court of First nstance of Manila. &he said court, after trial, rendered (ud'%ent declarin' the
Board resolution null and void, and orderin', a%on' others, the reinstate%ent of the herein petitioner
and awardin' hi% P,,...... as attorne*)s fees. As aforesaid, both the petitioner and the
respondents appealed the (ud'%ent.
Per its resolution, the pre%ises of the board in dis%issin' the petitioner are0 +"/ its deliberation of the
report of the co%%ittee, the records of the case and the representations of the parties< +#/ the
service record of the petitioner, particularl* the various cases a'ainst hi% in "2,,< and +=/ loss of
confidence b* the 6overnor, with the i%plied concurrence of the Monetar* Board. No specific
findin's were %ade< it is, therefore, evident that the petitioner was re%oved on the third 'round,
since he was neither re%oved for 'uilt of the char'es a'ainst hi% in the ad%inistrative co%plaint nor
on account of his previous cases in "2,, because he had suffered the correspondin' penalt*
i%posed upon hi% on the counts for which he was then found 'uilt*, and because he was
thereafterpro#oted in salar* and to the position in >uestion b* the Monetar* Board on
reco%%endation of the 6overnor.&'%p()&.*+t
&he appeal of the Central Ban9 and its Monetar* Board is planted on the proposition that officers
holdin' hi'hl* technical positions %a* be re%oved at an* ti%e for lac9 of confidence b* the
appointin' power, and that such power of re%oval is i%plicit in section ", Art. ?, of the Constitution0
5ection ". A Civil 5ervice e%bracin' all branches and subdivisions of the 6overn%ent shall
be provided b* law. Appoint%ents in the Civil 5ervice, e7cept as to those which are polic*-
deter%inin', pri%aril* confidential or hi'hl* technical in nature, shall be %ade onl* accordin'
to %erit and fitness, to be deter%ined as far as practicable b* co%petitive e7a%ination.
t is ar'ued that for the three classes of position referred to in the constitutional disposition +polic*-
deter%inin', pri%aril* confidential and hi'hl* technical/, lac9 of confidence of the one %a9in' the
appoint%ent constitutes sufficient and le'iti%ate cause of re%oval.
@e find the appeal of the Central Ban9 authorities to be clearl* untenable.
n the first place, the loss of confidence 'round, on which the dis%issal is sou'ht to be predicated, is
a clear and evident afterthou'ht resorted to when the char'es, sub(ect %atter of the investi'ation,
were not proved or substantiated. &he Monetar* Board nowhere stated an*thin' in the record which
the co%%ittee failed to consider in reco%%endin' e7oneration fro% the char'es< it nowhere pointed
to an* substantiation of the char'es< it, therefore, relied onl* on the state%ent of the loss of
confidence %ade b* 6overnor Cuaderno. @e find in the particular set of facts herein that the alle'ed
loss of confidence is clearl* a prete7t to cure the inabilit* of substantiatin' the char'es upon which
the investi'ation had proceeded.
&he court, therefore, cannot rel* on the so-called 4loss of confidence4 as a reason for dis%issal. And
inas%uch as the char'es a'ainst petitioner were unsubstantiated, that leaves no other alternative
but to follow the %andate that A
No public officer or e%plo*ee in the Civil 5ervice shall be re%oved or suspended e7cept for
cause as provided b* law +5ec. !, Art. ?, Constitution of the Phil./
5ince in the interest of the service reasonable protection should be afforded civil servants in
positions that are b* their nature i%portant, such as those that are 4hi'hl* technical,4 the
Constitutional safe'uard re>uirin' re%oval or suspension to be 4for cause as provided b* law4 at
least de%ands that their dis%issal for alle'ed 4loss of confidence4 if at all allowed, be attended with
prudence and deliberation ade>uate to show that said 'round e7ists.
n the second place, the ar'u%ent for the Monetar* Board i'nores the self-evident fact that the
constitutional provisions %erel* constitute the polic*-deter%inin', pri%aril* confidential, and hi'hl*
technical positions ase,"eptions to the rule re>uirin' appoint#ents in the Civil 5ervice to be %ade
on the basis of #erit and fitness as deter#ined fro# "o#petitive e,a#inations +sec. ", supra/ +:over
vs. Borra, !2 1.6. BNo. -C #-,,/, but that the Constitution does not e7e%pt such positions fro% the
operation of the principle e%phaticall* and cate'oricall* enunciated in section ! of Article ?, that A
No officer or e%plo*ee in the Civil 5ervice shall be re%oved or suspended e7cept for cause
as provided b* law.
and which reco'niDes no e7ception. &he absolute rule thus propounded is repeated al%ost verbati%
in 5ec. "=# of the Central Ban9 Charter +Rep. Act #$,/ that provides in e>uall* absolute ter%s that
A
No officer or e%plo*ee of the Central Ban9 sub(ect to the Civil 5ervice Eaw or re'ulations
shall be re%oved or suspended e7cept for cause as provided b* law.
t is well to recall here that the Civil 5ervice Eaw in force +Rep. Act No. ##$./ divides positions into
three cate'ories0 co%petitive or classified< non-co%petitive or unclassified service< and e7e%pt
service, the last bein' e7pressl* e7cluded fro% the scope of the Civil 5ervice Act +sec. =, R.A. ##$./.
n view of sections = and , of the sa%e law, providin' that A
5EC =. -ositions e#bra"ed in t(e !ivil .ervi"e.A&he Philippine Civil 5ervice shall e%brace
all branches, subdivisions and instru%entalities of the 6overn%ent, includin' 'overn%ent-
owned or controlled corporations, ...
5EC. ,. T(e non-"o#petitive servi"e.A&he non-co%petitive or unclassified service shall be
co%posed of positions e7pressl* declared b* law to be in the non-co%petitive or unclassified
service or those which are polic*-deter%inin', pri%aril* confidential or hi'hl* technical in
nature. +R.A. ##$./
it is indisputable that the plaintiff Corpus is protected b* the Civil 5ervice law and re'ulations as a
%e%ber of the non-co%petitive or unclassified service, and that his re%oval or suspension %ust be
for cause reco'niDed b* law +Fnabia vs. Ma*or, ,= 1ff. 6aD. "=#< Arcel vs. 1s%eGa, E-"!2,$, Feb.
#-, "2$"< 6arcia vs. E7ecutive 5ecretar*, E-"2-!3, 5epte%ber "=, "2$#/.
&he tenure of officials holdin' pri%aril* confidential positions +such as private secretaries of public
functionaries/ ends upon loss of confidence, because their ter% of office lasts onl* as lon' as
confidence in the% endures< and thus their cessation involves no re%oval. But the situation is
different for those holdin' hi'hl* technical posts, re>uirin' special s9ills and >ualifications. &he
Constitution clearl* distin'uished the pri%aril* confidential fro% the hi'hl* technical, and to appl* the
loss of confidence rule to the latter incu%bents is to i'nore and erase the differentiation e7pressl*
%ade b* our funda%ental charter. Moreover, it is illo'ical that while an ordinar* technician, sa* a
cler9, steno'rapher, %echanic, or en'ineer, en(o*s securit* of tenure and %a* not be re%oved at
pleasure, a (i(l/ technical officer, such as an econo%ist or a scientist of avowed attain%ents and
reputation, should be denied securit* and be re%ovable at an* ti%e, without ri'ht to a hearin' or
chance to defend hi%self. No technical %en worth* of the na%e would be willin' to accept wor9
under such conditions. Flti%atel*, the rule advocated b* the Ban9 would de%and that hi'hl*
technical positions be filled b* persons who %ust labor alwa*s with an e*e coc9ed at the hu%or to
their superiors. t would si'nif* that the so-called hi'hl* technical positions will have to be filled b*
inco%petents and *es-%en, who %ust rel* not on their own >ualifications and s9ill but on their abilit*
to curr* favor with the powerful. &he entire ob(ective of the Constitution in establishin' and di'nif*in'
the Civil 5ervice on the basis of %erit would be thus ne'ated.
1f course, a position %a* be declared both hi'hl* technical and confidential, as the supre%e
interests of the state %a* re>uire. But the position of plaintiff-appellant Corpus is not of this cate'or*.
&he decision in De los .antos vs. Mallare, 3- Phil. #32, relied upon b* the appellant Ban9, is not
applicable since said case involved the office of cit* en'ineer that the court e7pressl* found to be
4neither pri%aril* confidential, polic*-deter%inin' nor hi'hl* technical4 +at p. #2-, in fine/.
&urnin' now to the appeal of plaintiff R. Marino Corpus. &he latter co%plains first a'ainst the
allowance of onl* P,,...... attorne*)s fees b* the court below stressin' that the stipulation of facts
between the parties clearl* recites that Corpus had a'reed to pa* his attorne* P#.,...... as fees. t
is to be noted, however, that the a'ree%ent between client and law*er cannot bind the other part*
who was a stran'er to the fee contract. @hile the Civil Code allows a part* to recover reasonable
counsel fees b* wa* of da%a'es, such fees %ust lie pri%aril* in the discretion of the trial court, and
no abuse of that discretion is here shown. &he sa%e thin' can be said as to plaintiff)s recover* of
%oral da%a'es< the trial court was evidentl* not satisfied that such da%a'es were ade>uatel*
proved and on the record, we do not believe we would be warranted in interferin' with its (ud'%ent.
&he clai% for e7e%plar* da%a'es %ust presuppose the e7istence of the circu%stances enu%erated
in Articles ##=" and ##=# of the Civil Code. &hat is essentiall* a >uestion of fact that lies within the
province of the court a $uo, and we do not believe that in opinin' that the position of Corpus was
one dependent on confidence, the defendant Monetar* Board necessaril* acted with vindictiveness
or wantonness, and not in the e7ercise of honest (ud'%ent.
@HEREF1RE, the decision appealed fro% is hereb* affir%ed without special pronounce%ent as to
costs.
!on"ep"ion, Barrera, -aredes, Dizon, Reala and Ma0alintal, JJ., "on"ur.
Benzon, !.J., and Bautista Anelo, J., too0 no part.
S#$ara%# O$&'&o'(
"ENG)ON, !.P., J., concurrin'0
a'ree with the decision because, as stated therein, in this particular case the so-called 4loss of
confidence4 is a clear afterthou'ht resorted to onl* when the char'es sub(ect-%atter of the
investi'ation could not be substantiated. &he resolution of the Monetar* Board considerin' the
petitioner resi'ned, stated that his position was 4hi'hl* technical,4 as declared b* the President,
thereb* noticeabl* see9in' to put it within a cate'or* where 4loss of confidence4 operates to
ter%inate the e%plo*%ent. Further%ore, a reference to for%er char'es a'ainst petitioner which had
alread* been disposed of prior to his pro%otion, obviousl* provides no apparent basis for the stand
therein ta9en. As a result, the alle'ed 4loss of confidence4 cannot be relied upon as a reason for
petitioner)s dis%issal. &his point , believe, suffices to affir% the decision of the court a $uo with
respect to respondents) appeal.
A rulin' on the far-reachin' >uestion of whether or not 4loss of confidence4 is a lawful 'round for
dis%issal fro% a hi'hl* technical position in the Civil 5ervice should, to %* %ind, await the instance
when it is absolutel* re>uired in decidin' a case. A further discussion could then be pursued on0 +"/
a hi'hl* technical position that involves ut%ost confidence, e. ., that of a scientist in an Ato%ic
Ener'* Research 1ffice dealin' with secrets that affect the securit* of the 5tate< +#/ the rule as to
polic*-deter%inin' positions< and +=/ whether 5ection ", Article ? of the Constitution spea9s of
4polic*-deter%inin', pri%aril* confidential or hi'hl* technical in nature4 dis(unctivel* or to'ether.
Conse>uentl*, reserve %* view as to whether incu%bents of hi'hl* technical positions in the Civil
5ervice %a* or %a* not be re%oved for 4loss of confidence4 in a proper case, and concur with the
decision in all other respects.
1aldivar, J., "on"urs.
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