CA denies Buted, Gutierrez petition

9-MONTH SUSPENSION UPHELD

LINGAYEN—The implementation of the decision of the Ombudsman suspending Dr. Dexter Buted and Marcelo Gutierrez, president and director, respectively, of the Pangasinan State University (PSU), for nine months without pay for oppression now appears certain after the Court of Appeals dismissed on March 27, 2018 the petition for review filed by the two petitioners.

This loomed after a resolution was promulgated by the 10th division of the Appellate Court, which also “noted without action” the PSU officers’ other petition for a temporary restraining order seeking to stop their suspension.

The CA resolution was penned by Associate Justice Maria Filomena Singh. Associate Justices Sesinando E. Villon and Edwin Sorongon concurred.

The respondents in the petition docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 154349 are the Office of the Ombudsman and Ricardo A. Tapia, a professor of PSU Binmaley, who initiated the complaint of grave abuse of power and oppression against both Buted and Gutierrez.

In dismissing the petition of the two, the Appellate Court noted that Buted and Gutierrez directly filed their petition for review with the court, without first filing a motion for reconsideration. The CA considered that a violation to the doctrine in law that “there must be exhaustion of all administrative remedies”.

Buted and Gutierrez had argued before the CA that the direct filing of the petition before the court constituted an exception to the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies considering that “(a) there is an irreparable injury; (b) to require exhaustion of administrative remedies would be unreasonable; (c) the rule does not provide any other plain, speedy and adequate a remedy; and (d) there is an urgency for judicial intervention”.

However, the court found the grounds invoked by the petitioners as “unsupported”.

But even prior to the CA’s resolution, the PSU board of regents had been reminded by the Ombudsman that its decisions in administrative cases “are immediately executory”.

Jane T. Javier Garzon, officer-in-charge at the Ombudsman’s Enforcement and Monitoring Unit, had written Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) officer-in-charge Prospero de Vera III, also chairman of the PSU board of regents, on February 26 to implement the order.

De Vera on February 9, 2018 reported to the Ombudsman that the PSU board of regents failed, despite several attempts, to call a quorum to implement the decision against Buted and Gutierrez.

The decision of the Ombudsman stemmed from the complaint of Tapia against Buted and Gutierrez for causing the order reassigning him from PSU Binmaley campus to the Urdaneta campus.

Tapia had refused to accept the reassignment citing his ailment, ankylosing spondylitis (which is a form of spinal arthritis), and a reassignment to another place would affect his salary due to the distance from his home in Bugallon to PSU Urdaneta.

Consequently, Gutierrez recommended the removal of Tapia’s biometrics, but Tapia continued to report for work at PSU Binmaley despite refusal of Gutierrez to sign his daily time record and leave forms.

Buted later declared Gutierrez absent without official leave (AWOL) and dropped him from the roll.

This prompted Tapia to file an administrative case before the Ombudsman against Buted and Gutierrez for grave misconduct and oppression and was vindicated when the anti-graft body suspended Buted and Gutierrez for nine months without pay in its March 16, 2017 decision. (Leonardo Micua)

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