G.R. No. L-31683. January 31, 1983 (Case Brief / Digest)

### Title:
The Case of Eligibility and Minor Ordinance Violations: Ernesto M. de Guzman vs. Hon. Abelardo Subido, et al.

### Facts:
Ernesto M. de Guzman, after passing the necessary civil service and character examinations, was appointed as a patrolman in the Quezon City Police Department by Mayor Norberto S. Amoranto on August 16, 1965. Upon successfully completing a police training course, his appointment paperwork was submitted to the Commissioner of Civil Service on March 21, 1966. However, due to inaction from the respondent commissioner, by August 18, 1966, the city treasurer and auditor ceased petitioner’s salary payments. Citing Republic Act No. 4864 (Police Act of 1966), which demands appointees to have a “no criminal record,” the commissioner eventually returned the appointment papers on May 12, 1967, disqualifying de Guzman based solely on his admission of minor violations of city ordinances related to jaywalking and a seating regulation for cocheros. De Guzman’s subsequent petition for certiorari and mandamus filed with the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch V, was dismissed on May 29, 1969, based on a literal interpretation of “no criminal record.”

### Issues:
1. Whether or not violations and/or minor convictions of municipal ordinances constitute a “criminal record” that disqualifies an otherwise eligible appointee under the Police Act of 1966 (Republic Act No. 4864) for appointment to the police force.

### Court’s Decision:
The Supreme Court granted de Guzman’s petition, emphasizing the intent of civil service legislation to open government employment to all qualified citizens and to attract the best qualified into service. The Court differentiated between acts not intrinsically criminal pertaining to local regulations and actual crimes, suggesting that minor infractions should not automatically disqualify an appointee. The decision underscored that automatic disqualification for minor ordinance violations was unreasonable and highlighted the delayed action (over a year) by the Commissioner, which by default meant the appointment was deemed properly made after the 180 days period outlined in Civil Service Rules and Regulations. De Guzman was ordered to be reinstated, provided he met current physical and other qualifications, and was awarded five years of backpay in addition to any unpaid salaries and allowances for services rendered.

### Doctrine:
The Supreme Court clarified that minor violations of municipal ordinances do not constitute a “criminal record” in the context of eligibility for public service appointments under the Civil Service Law and the Police Act of 1966. It emphasized a distinction between minor infractions and acts of a certain degree of wrongdoing that would meaningfully reflect on an individual’s suitability for public office.

### Class Notes:
– Qualifications for government service must be reasonably related to the duties and responsibilities of the office.
– Violations of municipal ordinances, if minor and not reflective of moral turpitude, cannot disqualify a candidate from public service under the “no criminal record” requirement.
– Delayed action by civil service authorities on appointment papers, beyond the regulatory period, results in the appointment being deemed properly ratified.
– Legal distinction between acts intrinsically punishable as public offenses and minor violations of local regulations.
– Automatic and perpetual disqualification for minor ordinance violations without a close examination of the acts’ nature is seen as unreasonable.

### Historical Background:
This case took place in a period within the Philippines where administrative and procedural adherence in public service appointments was under scrutiny, reflecting the evolving standards and practices surrounding eligibility and integrity within the civil service system. The legal distinctions between crimes and minor infractions in the eligibility context highlighted the judiciary’s role in interpreting legislative intent and safeguarding individual rights against bureaucratic overreach.


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