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SECOND DIVISION

STAR PAPER CORPORATION, G.R. No. 164774


JOSEPHINE ONGSITCO &
SEBASTIAN CHUA,
Petitioners, Present:
PUNO, J., Chairman,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
CORONA,
AZCUNA, and
-versus- GARCIA, JJ.
Promulgated:
RONALDO D. SIMBOL, April 12, 2006
WILFREDA N. COMIA &
LORNA E. ESTRELLA,
Respondents.
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DECISION
PUNO, J.:
We are called to decide an issue of first impression: whether the policy of the
employer banning spouses from working in the same company violates the rights
of the employee under the Constitution and the Labor Code or is a valid exercise of
management prerogative.
At bar is a Petition for Review on Certiorari of the Decision of the Court of
Appeals dated August 3, 2004 in CA-G.R. SP No. 73477 reversing the decision of
the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) which affirmed the ruling of
the Labor Arbiter.
Petitioner Star Paper Corporation (the company) is a corporation engaged in
trading principally of paper products. Josephine Ongsitco is its Manager of the
Personnel and Administration Department while Sebastian Chua is its Managing
Director.

The evidence for the petitioners show that respondents Ronaldo D. Simbol
(Simbol), Wilfreda N. Comia (Comia) and Lorna E. Estrella (Estrella) were all
regular employees of the company.[1]
Simbol was employed by the company on October 27, 1993. He met Alma Dayrit,
also an employee of the company, whom he married on June 27, 1998. Prior to the
marriage, Ongsitco advised the couple that should they decide to get married, one
of them should resign pursuant to a company policy promulgated in 1995,[2] viz.:
1. New applicants will not be allowed to be hired if in case he/she has [a] relative,
up to [the] 3rd degree of relationship, already employed by the company.
2.
In case of two of our employees (both singles [sic], one male and
another female) developed a friendly relationship during the course of their
employment and then decided to get married, one of them should resign to
preserve the policy stated above.[3]

Simbol resigned on June 20, 1998 pursuant to the company policy.[4]


Comia was hired by the company on February 5, 1997. She met Howard Comia, a
co-employee, whom she married on June 1, 2000. Ongsitco likewise reminded
them that pursuant to company policy, one must resign should they decide to get
married. Comia resigned on June 30, 2000.[5]
Estrella was hired on July 29, 1994. She met Luisito Zuiga (Zuiga), also a coworker. Petitioners stated that Zuiga, a married man, got Estrella pregnant. The
company allegedly could have terminated her services due to immorality but she
opted to resign on December 21, 1999.[6]
The respondents each signed a Release and Confirmation Agreement. They stated
therein that they have no money and property accountabilities in the company and
that they release the latter of any claim or demand of whatever nature.[7]
Respondents offer a different version of their dismissal. Simbol and Comia allege
that they did not resign voluntarily; they were compelled to resign in view of an
illegal company policy. As to respondent Estrella, she alleges that she had a
relationship with co-worker Zuiga who misrepresented himself as a married but
separated man. After he got her pregnant, she discovered that he was not separated.
Thus, she severed her relationship with him to avoid dismissal due to the company
policy. On November 30, 1999, she met an accident and was advised by the doctor
at the Orthopedic Hospital to recuperate for twenty-one (21) days. She returned to
work on December 21, 1999 but she found out that her name was on-hold at the
gate. She was denied entry. She was directed to proceed to the personnel office
where one of the staff handed her a memorandum. The memorandum stated that

she was being dismissed for immoral conduct. She refused to sign the
memorandum because she was on leave for twenty-one (21) days and has not been
given a chance to explain. The management asked her to write an explanation.
However, after submission of the explanation, she was nonetheless dismissed by
the company. Due to her urgent need for money, she later submitted a letter of
resignation in exchange for her thirteenth month pay.[8]
Respondents later filed a complaint for unfair labor practice, constructive
dismissal, separation pay and attorneys fees. They averred that the aforementioned
company policy is illegal and contravenes Article 136 of the Labor Code. They
also contended that they were dismissed due to their union membership.
On May 31, 2001, Labor Arbiter Melquiades Sol del Rosario dismissed the
complaint for lack of merit, viz.:
[T]his company policy was decreed pursuant to what the respondent
corporation perceived as management prerogative. This management prerogative
is quite broad and encompassing for it covers hiring, work assignment, working
method, time, place and manner of work, tools to be used, processes to be
followed, supervision of workers, working regulations, transfer of employees,
work supervision, lay-off of workers and the discipline, dismissal and recall of
workers. Except as provided for or limited by special law, an employer is free to
regulate, according to his own discretion and judgment all the aspects of
employment.[9] (Citations omitted.)

On appeal to the NLRC, the Commission affirmed the decision of the Labor
Arbiter on January 11, 2002. [10]
Respondents filed a Motion for Reconsideration but was denied by the NLRC in a
Resolution[11] dated August 8, 2002. They appealed to respondent court via Petition
for Certiorari.
In its assailed Decision dated August 3, 2004, the Court of Appeals reversed the
NLRC decision, viz.:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the May 31, 2002 (sic)[12] Decision of the
National Labor Relations Commission is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE
and a new one is entered as follows:
(1) Declaring illegal, the petitioners dismissal from employment
and ordering private respondents to reinstate petitioners to their
former positions without loss of seniority rights with full
backwages from the time of their dismissal until actual
reinstatement; and

(2) Ordering private respondents to pay petitioners attorneys fees


amounting to 10% of the award and the cost of this suit.[13]

On appeal to this Court, petitioners contend that the Court of Appeals erred in
holding that:
1. X X X THE SUBJECT 1995 POLICY/REGULATION IS VIOLATIVE OF
THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TOWARDS MARRIAGE AND THE
FAMILY OF EMPLOYEES AND OF ARTICLE 136 OF THE LABOR CODE;
AND
2. X X X RESPONDENTS
RESIGNATIONS
WERE
FAR
FROM
[14]
VOLUNTARY.

We affirm.
The 1987 Constitution[15] states our policy towards the protection of labor
under the following provisions, viz.:

Article II, Section 18. The State affirms labor as a primary social economic force.
It shall protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare.
xxx
Article XIII, Sec. 3. The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and
overseas, organized and unorganized, and promote full employment and equality
of employment opportunities for all.
It shall guarantee the rights of all workers to self-organization, collective
bargaining and negotiations, and peaceful concerted activities, including the right
to strike in accordance with law. They shall be entitled to security of tenure,
humane conditions of work, and a living wage. They shall also participate in
policy and decision-making processes affecting their rights and benefits as may be
provided by law.
The State shall promote the principle of shared responsibility between workers
and employers, recognizing the right of labor to its just share in the fruits of
production and the right of enterprises to reasonable returns on investments, and
to expansion and growth.

The Civil Code likewise protects labor with the following provisions:
Art. 1700. The relation between capital and labor are not merely contractual. They
are so impressed with public interest that labor contracts must yield to the
common good. Therefore, such contracts are subject to the special laws on labor
unions, collective bargaining, strikes and lockouts, closed shop, wages, working
conditions, hours of labor and similar subjects.
Art. 1702. In case of doubt, all labor legislation and all labor contracts shall be
construed in favor of the safety and decent living for the laborer.

The Labor Code is the most comprehensive piece of legislation protecting


labor. The case at bar involves Article 136 of the Labor Code which provides:
Art. 136. It shall be unlawful for an employer to require as a condition of
employment or continuation of employment that a woman employee shall not get
married, or to stipulate expressly or tacitly that upon getting married a woman
employee shall be deemed resigned or separated, or to actually dismiss, discharge,
discriminate or otherwise prejudice a woman employee merely by reason of her
marriage.

Respondents submit that their dismissal violates the above provision. Petitioners
allege that its policy may appear to be contrary to Article 136 of the Labor Code
but it assumes a new meaning if read together with the first paragraph of the rule.
The rule does not require the woman employee to resign. The employee spouses
have the right to choose who between them should resign. Further, they are free to
marry persons other than co-employees. Hence, it is not the marital status of the
employee, per se, that is being discriminated. It is only intended to carry out its noemployment-for-relatives-within-the-third-degree-policy which is within the ambit
of the prerogatives of management.[16]
It is true that the policy of petitioners prohibiting close relatives from working in
the same company takes the nature of an anti-nepotism employment policy.
Companies adopt these policies to prevent the hiring of unqualified persons based
on their status as a relative, rather than upon their ability.[17] These policies focus
upon the potential employment problems arising from the perception of favoritism
exhibited towards relatives.
With more women entering the workforce, employers are also enacting
employment policies specifically prohibiting spouses from working for the same
company. We note that two types of employment policies involve spouses: policies
banning only spouses from working in the same company (no-spouse
employment policies), and those banning all immediate family members,
including spouses, from working in the same company (anti-nepotism
employment policies).[18]

Unlike in our jurisdiction where there is no express prohibition on marital


discrimination,[19] there are twenty state statutes[20] in the United States prohibiting
marital discrimination. Some state courts[21] have been confronted with the issue of
whether no-spouse policies violate their laws prohibiting both marital status and
sex discrimination.
In challenging the anti-nepotism employment policies in the United States,
complainants
utilize
two
theories
of
employment
discrimination:
the disparate treatment and
thedisparate
impact. Under
the disparate
treatment analysis, the plaintiff must prove that an employment policy is
discriminatory on its face. No-spouse employment policies requiring an employee
of a particular sex to either quit, transfer, or be fired are facially discriminatory.
For example, an employment policy prohibiting the employer from hiring wives of
male employees, but not husbands of female employees, is discriminatory on its
face.[22]
On the other hand, to establish disparate impact, the complainants must prove
that a facially neutral policy has a disproportionate effect on a particular class. For
example, although most employment policies do not expressly indicate which
spouse will be required to transfer or leave the company, the policy often
disproportionately affects one sex.[23]
The state courts rulings on the issue depend on their interpretation of the scope of
marital status discrimination within the meaning of their respective civil rights
acts. Though they agree that the term marital status encompasses discrimination
based on a person's status as either married, single, divorced, or widowed, they are
divided on whether the term has a broader meaning. Thus, their decisions vary.[24]
The courts narrowly[25] interpreting marital status to refer only to a person's status
as married, single, divorced, or widowed reason that if the legislature intended a
broader definition it would have either chosen different language or specified its
intent. They hold that the relevant inquiry is if one is married rather than to whom
one is married. They construe marital status discrimination to include only whether
a person is single, married, divorced, or widowed and not the identity, occupation,
and place of employment of one's spouse. These courts have upheld the questioned
policies and ruled that they did not violate the marital status discrimination
provision of their respective state statutes.
The courts that have broadly[26] construed the term marital status rule that it
encompassed the identity, occupation and employment of one's spouse. They strike
down the no-spouse employment policies based on the broad legislative intent of
the state statute. They reason that the no-spouse employment policy violate the
marital status provision because it arbitrarily discriminates against all spouses of
present employees without regard to the actual effect on the individual's
qualifications or work performance.[27] These courts also find the no-spouse

employment policy invalid for failure of the employer to present any evidence
of business necessity other than the general perception that spouses in the same
workplace might adversely affect the business.[28] They hold that the absence of
such a bona fide occupational qualification[29] invalidates a rule denying
employment to one spouse due to the current employment of the other spouse in
the same office.[30] Thus, they rule that unless the employer can prove that the
reasonable demands of the business require a distinction based on marital status
and there is no better available or acceptable policy which would better accomplish
the business purpose, an employer may not discriminate against an employee based
on the identity of the employees spouse. [31] This is known as the bona fide
occupational qualification exception.
We note that since the finding of a bona fide occupational qualification justifies an
employers no-spouse rule, the exception is interpreted strictly and narrowly by
these state courts. There must be a compelling business necessity for which no
alternative exists other than the discriminatory practice. [32] To justify a bona fide
occupational qualification, the employer must prove two factors: (1) that the
employment qualification is reasonably related to the essential operation of the job
involved; and, (2) that there is a factual basis for believing that all or substantially
all persons meeting the qualification would be unable to properly perform the
duties of the job.[33]
The concept of a bona fide occupational qualification is not foreign in our
jurisdiction. We employ the standard of reasonableness of the company policy
which is parallel to the bona fide occupational qualification requirement. In the
recent
case
of Duncan
Association
of Detailman-PTGWO
and
[34]
Pedro Tecson v. Glaxo Wellcome Philippines,
Inc., we passed
on
the
validity of the policy of a pharmaceutical company prohibiting its employees from
marrying employees of any competitor company. We held that Glaxohas a right to
guard its trade secrets, manufacturing formulas, marketing strategies and other
confidential programs and information from competitors. We considered the
prohibition against personal or marital relationships with employees of competitor
companies upon Glaxos employees reasonable under the circumstances because
relationships of that nature might compromise the interests of Glaxo. In laying
down the assailed company policy, we recognized that Glaxo only aims to protect
its interests against the possibility that a competitor company will gain access to its
secrets and procedures.[35]
The requirement that a company policy must be reasonable under the
circumstances to qualify as a valid exercise of management prerogative was also at
issue in the 1997 case of Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Company v.
NLRC.[36] In said case, the employee was dismissed in violation of petitioners

policy of disqualifying from work any woman worker who contracts marriage. We
held that the company policy violates the right against discrimination afforded all
women workers under Article 136 of the Labor Code, but established a permissible
exception, viz.:
[A] requirement that a woman employee must remain unmarried could be
justified as a bona fide occupational qualification, or BFOQ, where the
particular requirements of the job would justify the same, but not on the ground of
a general principle, such as the desirability of spreading work in the workplace. A
requirement of that nature would be valid provided it reflects an inherent
quality reasonably necessary for satisfactory job performance.[37] (Emphases
supplied.)

The cases of Duncan and PT&T instruct us that the requirement of


reasonableness must be clearly established to uphold the questioned employment
policy. The employer has the burden to prove the existence of a reasonable
business necessity. The burden was successfully discharged in Duncan but not in
PT&T.
We do not find a reasonable business necessity in the case at bar.
Petitioners sole contention that the company did not just want to have two
(2) or more of its employees related between the third degree by affinity and/or
consanguinity[38] is lame. That the second paragraph was meant to give teeth to the
first paragraph of the questioned rule[39] is evidently not the valid reasonable
business necessity required by the law.
It is significant to note that in the case at bar, respondents were hired after
they were found fit for the job, but were asked to resign when they married a coemployee. Petitioners failed to show how the marriage of Simbol, then a Sheeting
Machine Operator, to Alma Dayrit, then an employee of the Repacking Section,
could be detrimental to its business operations. Neither did petitioners explain how
this detriment will happen in the case of Wilfreda Comia, then a Production Helper
in the Selecting Department, who married Howard Comia, then a helper in the
cutter-machine. The policy is premised on the mere fear that employees married to
each other will be less efficient. If we uphold the questioned rule without valid
justification, the employer can create policies based on an unproven presumption
of a perceived danger at the expense of an employees right to security of tenure.

Petitioners contend that their policy will apply only when one employee
marries a co-employee, but they are free to marry persons other than coemployees. The questioned policy may not facially violate Article 136 of the Labor
Code but it creates a disproportionate effect and under the disparate impact theory,
the only way it could pass judicial scrutiny is a showing that it
is reasonable despite the discriminatory, albeit disproportionate, effect. The failure
of petitioners to prove a legitimate business concern in imposing the questioned
policy cannot prejudice the employees right to be free from arbitrary
discrimination based upon stereotypes of married persons working together in one
company.[40]
Lastly, the absence of a statute expressly prohibiting marital discrimination
in our jurisdiction cannot benefit the petitioners. The protection given to labor in
our jurisdiction is vast and extensive that we cannot prudently draw inferences
from the legislatures silence[41] that married persons are not protected under our
Constitution and declare valid a policy based on a prejudice or stereotype. Thus,
for failure of petitioners to present undisputed proof of a reasonable business
necessity, we rule that the questioned policy is an invalid exercise of management
prerogative. Corollarily, the issue as to whether respondents Simbol and Comia
resigned voluntarily has become moot and academic.
As to respondent Estrella, the Labor Arbiter and the NLRC based their ruling
on the singular fact that her resignation letter was written in her own handwriting.
Both ruled that her resignation was voluntary and thus valid. The respondent court
failed to categorically rule whether Estrella voluntarily resigned but ordered that
she be reinstated along with Simbol and Comia.
Estrella claims that she was pressured to submit a resignation letter because
she was in dire need of money. We examined the records of the case and
find Estrellascontention to be more in accord with the evidence. While findings of
fact by administrative tribunals like the NLRC are generally given not only respect
but, at times, finality, this rule admits of exceptions,[42] as in the case at bar.
Estrella avers that she went back to work on December 21, 1999 but was
dismissed due to her alleged immoral conduct. At first, she did not want to sign the
termination papers but she was forced to tender her resignation letter in exchange
for her thirteenth month pay.

The contention of petitioners that Estrella was pressured to resign because


she got impregnated by a married man and she could not stand being looked upon
or talked about as immoral[43] is incredulous. If she really wanted to avoid
embarrassment and humiliation, she would not have gone back to work at all. Nor
would she have filed a suit for illegal dismissal and pleaded for reinstatement. We
have held that in voluntary resignation, the employee is compelled by personal
reason(s) to dissociate himself from employment. It is done with the intention of
relinquishing an office, accompanied by the act of abandonment. [44] Thus, it is
illogical for Estrella to resign and then file a complaint for illegal dismissal. Given
the lack of sufficient evidence on the part of petitioners that the resignation was
voluntary, Estrellas dismissal is declared illegal.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
SP No. 73477 dated August 3, 2004 is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.
REYNATO S. PUNO
Associate Justice
WE CONCUR:

ANGELINA SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ
Associate Justice

RENATO C. CORONA ADOLFO S. AZCUNA


Associate Justice Associate Justice

CANCIO C. GARCIA
Associate Justice

ATTESTATION
I attest that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation
before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Courts Division.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Associate Justice
Chairman

CERTIFICATION
Pursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, and the Division
Chairmans Attestation, it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above
Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer
of the opinion of the Courts Division.

ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
Chief Justice

[1]

Petition for Review on Certiorari, 2; rollo, p. 9.

[2]

The records do not state the exact date when the policy in question was promulgated. The date
of reference is sometime in 1995.

[3]

Petition for Review on Certiorari, p. 3; rollo, p. 10.

[4]

Id. at 4; Id. at 11.

[5]

Ibid.

[6]

Ibid.

[7]

Petition for Review on Certiorari, pp. 4-5; rollo, pp. 11-12. See CA rollo, pp. 40-49.
CA Decision, p. 4; rollo, p. 29.

[8]

[9]

Decision of Labor Arbiter Melquiades Sol del Rosario; CA rollo, pp. 40-49.

[10]

Resolution, p. 7; CA rollo, p. 36.

[11]

Resolution; Id. at 37.


Should be January 11, 2002.

[12]

[13]

CA Decision, p. 11; rollo, p. 36.

[14]

Petition, p. 7; rollo, p. 14. Lower case in the original.

[15]

The questioned Decision also invokes Article II, Section 12. The State recognizes the sanctity
of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social
institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from
conception. The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth
for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of
the Government.

[16]

Memorandum [for Petitioners], p. 11; rollo, p. 73.

[17]

A. Giattina, Challenging No-Spouse Employment Policies As Marital Status Discrimination:


A Balancing Approach, 33 Wayne L. Rev. 1111 (Spring, 1987).

[18]
[19]

Ibid.
See Note
23, Duncan Association
of Detailman-PTGWO
and
Pedro Tecson v. Glaxo Wellcome Philippines, Inc., G.R. No. 162994, September 17,
2004.

[20]

ALASKA STAT. 18.80.200 (1986); CAL. GOV'T CODE 12940 (West 1980 & Supp.
1987); CONN. GEN. STAT. 46a-60 (1986); DEL. CODE ANN. tit. 19, 711 (1985); D.C.
CODE ANN. 1-2512 (1981); FLA. STAT. 760.01 (1986); HAWAII REV. STAT. 378-2
(1985); ILL. REV. STAT. ch. 68, 1- 103, 2-102 (Supp. 1986); MD. ANN. CODE art. 49B,
16 (1986); MICH. COMP. LAWS ANN. 37.2202 (West 1985); MINN. STAT. ANN.
363.03 (West Supp. 1987); MONT. CODE ANN. 49-2-303 (1986); NEB. REV. STAT. 481104 (1984); N.H. REV. STAT. ANN. 354-A:2 (1984); N.J. REV. STAT. 10:5-12 (1981 &
Supp. 1986); N.Y. EXEC. LAW 296 (McKinney 1982 & Supp. 1987); N.D. CENT.
CODE 14-02.4-03 (1981 & Supp. 1985); OR. REV. STAT. 659.030 (1985); WASH. REV.
CODE 49.60.180 (Supp. 1987); WIS. STAT. 111.321 (Supp. 1986). Cited in Note 34, A.
Giattina, supra note 18.

[21]

State courts in Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New York, and Washington have interpreted
the marital status provision of their respective state statutes. See Note 10, A. Giattina,
supra note 18.

[22]

Supra note 18.


Ibid.

[23]

[24]

Ibid.

[25]

Whirlpool Corp. v. Michigan Civil Rights Comm'n, 425 Mich. 527, 390 N.W.2d 625
(1986); Maryland Comm'n on Human Relations v. Greenbelt Homes, Inc., 300 Md. 75,
475 A.2d 1192 (1984);Manhattan Pizza Hut, Inc. v. New York State Human Rights
Appeal Bd., 51 N.Y.2d 506, 434 N.Y.S.2d 961, 415 N.E.2d 950 (1980); Thompson v.
Sanborn's Motor Express Inc., 154 N.J. Super. 555, 382 A.2d 53 (1977).

[26]

Ross v. Stouffer Hotel Co., 72 Haw. 350, 816 P.2d 302 (1991); Thompson v. Board of
Trustees, 192 Mont. 266, 627 P.2d 1229 (1981); Kraft, Inc. v. State, 284 N.W.2d 386
(Minn.1979); Washington Water Power Co. v. Washington State Human Rights Comm'n,
91 Wash.2d 62, 586 P.2d 1149 (1978).
[27]
See note 55, A. Giattina, supra note 18.
[28]

See note 56, ibid.

[29]

Also referred to as BFOQ.

[30]

See note 67, A. Giattina, supra note 18.

[31]

See Muller v. BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., 923 P.2d 783, 73 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 579,
69.

[32]
[33]

See note 117, A. Giattina, supra note 18.


Richard G. Flood and Kelly A. Cahill, The River Bend Decision and How It Affects
Municipalities Personnel Rule and Regulations, Illinois Municipal Review, June 1993, p.
7.

[34]

G.R. No. 162994, September 17, 2004.

[35]

Ibid.

[36]

G.R. No. 118978, May 23, 1997.


Ibid.

[37]

[38]

Petition, p. 9; rollo, p. 16.

[39]

Ibid.
See A. Giattina, supra note 18.

[40]

[41]

See dissenting opinion of Chief Justice Compton in Muller v. BP Exploration (Alaska)


Inc., 923 P.2d 783 (1996).
[42]
In Employees Association of the Philippine American Life Insurance Co. v. NLRC (G.R. No.
82976, July 26, 1991), the established exceptions are as follows:
a) the conclusion is a finding of fact grounded on speculations, surmises
and conjectures;
b) the inferences made are manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible;
c) there is a grave abuse of discretion;
d) there is misappreciation of facts; and
e) the court, in arriving in its findings, went beyond the issues of the case
and the same are contrary to the admission of the parties or the
evidence presented.
[43]
[44]

Petition, p. 11; rollo, p. 18.


Great Southern Maritime Services Corporation v. Acua, et al., G.R. No. 140189, February 28,
2005.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC

G.R. No. 111471 September 26, 1994


CITY MAYOR ROGELIO R. DEBULGADO and VICTORIA T. DEBULGADO, petitioners,
vs.
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, respondent.

Marlon P. Ontal for petitioners.

FELICIANO, J.:
Petitioner Rogelio R. Debulgado is the incumbent Mayor of the City of San Carlos, Negros
Occidental. On 1 October 1992, petitioner Mayor appointed his wife, petitioner Victoria T. Debulgado,
as General Services Officer, that is, as head of the Office of General Services 1 of the City
Government of San Carlos.
Petitioner Victoria was one of three (3) employees of the City Government who were considered for
the position of General Services Officer. Before her promotion in 1992, she had been in the service
of the City Government for about thirty-two (32) years. She joined the City Government on 3 January
1961 as Assistant License Clerk. Through the years, she rose from the ranks, successively
occupying the following positions:
(a) Assistant Chief of the License & Fees Division, from 1 July 1965 to 30 June 1973;
(b) Chief of the License and Fees Division, from 1 July 1973 to 1 January 1981;
(c) Cashier, from 2 January 1981 to 30 June 1989; and
(d) Cashier IV, from 1 July 1989 to 30 September 1992. 2
On 1 October 1992, petitioner Victoria assumed the new post, and commenced discharging
the functions, of General Services Officer of San Carlos City and receiving the regular salary
attached to that position.
On 16 December 1992, public respondent Civil Service Commission ("Commission") received a
letter 3 from Congressman Tranquilino B. Carmona of the First District of Negros Occidental, calling
attention to the promotional appointment issued by petitioner Mayor in favor of his wife.
The Commission directed its Regional Office No. 6-Iloilo City to submit a report on the appointment
of petitioner Victoria.
From the report submitted by Director Jesse J. Caberoy of the Iloilo City-CSRO No. 6, the
Commission found that petitioner Mayor was the lawful husband of the appointee, petitioner Victoria,
the two (2) having been married sometime in 1964. Director Caberoy also reported that the
appointment papers prepared by the Office of the City Mayor of San Carlos were submitted to the
Bacolod City CSC-Field Office on 28 October 1992, and that the appointment was thereafter
approved by Director Purita H. Escobia of that CSC-Field Office, on 18 November 1992.
Acting on the report of Director Caberoy, the Commission, in its Resolution No. 93-1427 dated 13
April 1993, recalled the approval issued by Director Escobia and disapproved the promotion of
petitioner Victoria to the position of General Services Officer of San Carlos City upon the ground that
that promotion violated the statutory prohibition against nepotic appointments.

On 14 June 1993, petitioner Mayor and petitioner Victoria received a copy of Resolution No. 93-1427
of the Commission. 4 Petitioners moved for reconsideration, contending that the statutory prohibition
against nepotism was not applicable to the appointment of Victoria as General Services Officer.
Petitioners also asserted that the Commission had deprived petitioner Victoria of her right to due process
by unilaterally revoking her appointment. The motion for reconsideration was denied by the Commission
on 21 July 1993.
In this Petition for Certiorari, petitioner Mayor and petitioner Victoria contend that the Commission
had gravely abused its discretion in withdrawing and disapproving petitioner Victoria's promotional
appointment. Petitioners assert that Victoria can no longer be removed from the position of General
Services Officer without giving her an opportunity to be heard and to answer the charged of
nepotism.
Petitioner Mayor denies that he had been motivated by personal reasons when he appointed his wife
to the new post. He states that his wife was the most qualified among the candidates for
appointment to that position, she having worked for the City Government for thirty-two (32) years
and being highly recommended by the OIC-Treasurer of San Carlos City. 5 It is also claimed by
petitioner Mayor that his choice of his wife for the position was concurred in by the Sangguniang
Panglungsod. 6 He further avers that he had consulted the Field and Regional Officers of the Commission
in Bacolod City, and raised the question of applicability of the prohibition against nepotism to the then
proposed promotion of his wife in one of the seminars conducted by the Commission's Regional Office
held in San Carlos City on 21 and 22 September 1992. According to petitioner Mayor, one Gregorio C.
Agdon, a supervising personnel specialist in the Commission's Bacolod Office, informed him that the
promotional appointment was not covered by the prohibition. 7
The basic contention of petitioners is that the prohibition against nepotic appointments is applicable
only to original appointments and not to promotional appointments. They believe that because
petitioner Victoria was already in the service of the City Government before she married petitioner
Mayor, the reason behind the prohibition no longer applied to her promotional appointment.
Petitioners also affirm that petitioner Victoria deserves to be promoted to General Services Officer,
considering her long and faithful service to the City Government. 8
The task before this Court is, accordingly, two-fold:
(1) to determine whether a promotional appointment is covered by the legal
prohibition against nepotism, or whether that prohibition applies only to original
appointments to the Civil Service; and
(2) to determine whether the Commission had gravely abused its discretion in
recalling and disapproving the promotional appointment given to petitioner Victoria
after the Commission, through Director Escobia, had earlier approved that same
appointment, without giving an opportunity to petitioner Victoria to explain her side on
the matter.
I
The prohibitory norm against nepotism in the public service is set out in Section 59, Book V of the
Revised Administrative Code of 1987 (also known as E.O. No. 292). Section 59 reads as follows:

Sec. 59. Nepotism (1) All appointments in the national, provincial, city and
municipal governmentsor in any branch or instrumentality thereof, including
government-owned or controlled corporations,made in favor of a relative of the
appointing or recommending authority, or of the chief of the bureau or office, or of the
persons exercising immediate supervision over him, are hereby prohibited.
As used in this Section the word "relative" and members of the family referred to
are those related within the third degree either of consanguinity or of affinity.
(2) The following are exempted from the operation of the rules on nepotism: (a)
persons employed in a confidential capacity, (b) teachers, (c) physicians, and (d)
members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines: Provided, however, That in each
particular instance full report of such appointment shall be made to the Commission.
The restriction mentioned in subsection (1) shall not be applicable to the case of a
member of any family who, after his or her appointment to any position in an office or
bureau, contracts marriage with someone in the same office or bureau, in which
event the employment or retention therein of both husband and wife may be allowed.
(3) In order to give immediate effect to these provisions, cases of previous
appointment which are in contravention hereof shall be corrected by transfer and
pending such transfer, no promotion or salary increase shall be allowed in favor of
the relative or relatives who were appointed in violation of these provisions.
(Emphasis supplied).
Section 6 of Rule XVIII, of the "Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of Executive Order No. 292
and other Pertinent Civil Service Laws," issued on 27 December 1991, implementing, among other
things, the abovequoted Section 59, provides as follows:
Sec. 6. No appointments in the national, provincial, city and municipal government or
in any branch or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled
corporations with original charters shall be made in favor of a relative of the
appointing or recommending authority, or of the chief of the bureau or office, or of the
persons exercising immediate supervision over the appointee.
Unless otherwise specifically provided by law, as used in this Section, the word
"relative" and the members of the family referred to are those related within the third
degree either of consanguinity or of affinity.
The following are exempted from the operation of the rules on nepotism: (a) persons
employed in a confidential capacity; (b) teachers; (c) physicians; (d) members of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines. Provided, however, That in each particular instance
full report of such appointment shall be made to the Commission.
The restriction mentioned in the first paragraph of this Section shall not be applicable
to the case of a member of any family who after his or her appointment to any
position in an office or bureau, contracts marriage with someone in the same office or
bureau, in which event the employment or retention therein of both husband and wife
may be allowed.

Cases of previous appointment which are in contravention hereof shall be corrected


by transfer, and pending such transfer no promotion or salary increase shall be
allowed in favor of the relative or relatives who were appointed in violation of these
provisions. (Emphasis supplied)
It will be noted that the abovequoted Section 6 of Implementing Rule XVIII essentially tracks
the provisions of Section 59, Book V of E.O. No. 292. 9
We turn, therefore, to an analysis of Section 59, Book V of E.O. No. 292, quoted above. The
noteworthy fact may be pointed out, at the outset, that Section 59 as it exists today has been in our
statute books in substantially identical form and language for at least thirty (30) years. 10
A textual examination of Section 59 at once reveals that the prohibition was cast in comprehensive
and unqualified terms. Firstly, it explicitly covers "all appointments", without seeking to make any
distinction between differing kinds or types of appointments. Secondly, Section 59 covers all
appointments to the national, provincial,city and municipal government, as well as any branch or
instrumentality thereof and all government owned or controlled corporations. Thirdly, there is a list of
exceptions set out in Section 59 itself, but it is a short list:
(a) persons employed in a confidential capacity;
(b) teachers;
(c) physicians; and
(d) members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The list has not been added to or subtracted from for the past thirty (30) years. The list
does not contain words like "and other similar positions." Thus, the list appears to us to be
a closed one, at least closed until lengthened or shortened by Congress.
Section 59 of Book V, E.O. No. 292 should, of course, be read in connection with the Omnibus
Implementing Rules. Additional light is shed on the issue we here address by some provisions of
these Rules. Section 1, Rule V of the Omnibus Implementing Rules reads as follows:
Sec. 1. All appointments in the career service shall be made only according to merit
and fitness to be determined as far as practicable by competitive examinations.
As used in these Rules, any action denoting movement or progress of personnel in
the civil serviceshall be known as personnel action. Such action shall include
promotion, transfer, reinstatement, reemployment, detail, secondment, reassignment,
demotion and separation. All original appointments and personnel actions shall be in
accordance with these Rules and with other regulations and standards that may be
promulgated by the Commission. (Emphasis supplied)
Section 1, Rule VII of the same Rules also bears upon our inquiry:
Sec. 1. The following constitute personnel actions: original appointment, appointment
through certification, promotion, transfer, reinstatement, reemployment, detail,
secondment, demotion and separation. (Emphasis supplied)

Under the abovequoted provisions of the Implementing Rules, both an original appointment and a
promotion are particular species of personnel action. The original appointment of a civil service
employee and all subsequent personnel actions undertaken by or in respect of that employee such
as promotion, transfer, reinstatement, reemployment, etc., must comply with the Implementing Rules
including, of course, the prohibition against nepotism in Rule XVIII. To the extent that all personnel
actions occurring after an original appointment, require the issuance of a new appointment to
another position (or to the original position in case of reinstatement), we believe that such
appointment must comply with all applicable rules and prohibitions, including the statutory and
regulatory prohibition against nepotism. To limit the thrust of the prohibition against nepotism to the
appointment issued at the time of initial entry into the government service, and to insulate from that
prohibition appointments subsequently issued when personnel actions are thereafter taken in
respect of the same employee, would be basically to render that prohibition, in the words of Laurel V,
etc. v. Civil Service Commission, 11 "meaningless and toothless."
Inquiry into the basic purpose or objective of the prohibition against nepotism also strongly indicates
that that prohibition was intended to be a comprehensive one. Section 1, Book V, E.O. No. 292 sets
out the basic policy which pervades all the provisions of our Civil Service law, including Section 59
thereof:
Sec. 1. Declaration of Policy. The State shall insure and promote
the Constitutional mandate that appointments in the Civil Service shall be made only
according to merit and fitness; . . . (Emphasis supplied)
Put succinctly, that purpose is to ensure that all appointments and other personnel actions in
the civil service should be based on merit and fitness and should never depend on how close
or intimate an appointee is to the appointing power. 12
Laurel V, etc. v. Civil Service Commission supra, is instructive in this connection. In that case,
petitioner Governor of Batangas Province appointed or designated his brother, Benjamin Laurel, who
had been holding a promotional appointment as Civil Security Officer, a position classified as
"primarily confidential" by the Civil Service, to the position of Provincial Administrator, a position in
the Career Civil Service. This Court held that the appointment or designation as Acting Provincial
Administrator was violative of the prohibition against nepotism, then embodied in Section 49, P.D.
No. 807. Moreover, the Court emphatically agreed with the Civil Service Commission that "although
what was extended to Benjamin was merely a designation and not an appointment, . . . the
prohibitive mantle on nepotism would include designation, because what cannot be done directly,
cannot be done indirectly:"
We cannot accept petitioner's view. His specious and tenuous distinction between
appointment and designation is nothing more than either a ploy ingeniously
conceived to circumvent the rigid rule on nepotism or a last-ditch maneuver to
cushion the impact of its violation. The rule admits of no distinction between
appointment and designation. Designation is also defined as "an appointment or
assignment to a particular office"; and "to designate" means "to indicate,
select, appoint or set apart for a purpose of duty." (Black's Law Dictionary, Fifth ed.,
402)
xxx xxx xxx

It seems clear to Us that Section 49 of P.D. No. 807 does not suggest that
designation should be differentiated from appointment. Reading this section with
Section 25 of said decree, career service positions may be filled up only by
appointment, either permanent or temporary; hence a designationof a person to fill it
up because it is vacant, is necessarily included in the term appointment, for it
precisely accomplishes the same purpose. Moreover, if a designation is not to be
deemed included in the term appointment under Section 49 of P.D. No. 807, then the
prohibition on nepotism would be meaningless and toothless. Any appointing
authority may circumvent it by merely designating, and not appointing, a relative
within the prohibited degree to a vacant position in the career service. Indeed, as
correctly stated by public respondent, "what cannot be done directly cannot be done
indirectly." 13 (Emphasis partly in the original and partly supplied; citation omitted)
Thus, the Court was unwilling to restrict and limit the scope of the prohibition which is
textually very broad and comprehensive.
One of the contentions of petitioner in the case at bar is that the ratio of the prohibition against
nepotism is not applicable here because petitioner Victoria was already in the government service at
the time petitioners were married in 1964. It is not disputed that the original 1961 appointment of
petitioner Victoria as an Assistant License Clerk was not a nepotic appointment. Indeed, Section 59
itself states, in the 4th paragraph thereof, that the prohibition against nepotism is not
applicable to the case of a member of any family who, after his or her appointment to
any position in any office or bureau, contracts marriage with someone in the same
office or bureau, in which event the employment or retention therein of both husband
and wife may be allowed. (Emphasis supplied)
The subsequent marriage of one to the other of petitioners did not retroactively convert the
original appointment of petitioner Victoria into a prohibited nepotic one. It is the promotional
appointment issued by petitioner Mayor to petitioner Victoria in 1 October 1982 that is at
stake.
Here, the basic argument of petitioners is that to read the prohibition in Section 59, Book V of E.O.
No. 292 as applicable both to original and promotional or subsequent appointments, would be to
deprive the government of the services of loyal and faithful employees who would thereby be
penalized simply because the appointing or recommending official happens to be related to the
employees within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity.
A major difficulty with the petitioners' argument is that it tends to prove too much. For the appointee,
whether in an original or a promotion appointment, may in fact be quite loyal and efficient and hardworking; yet that circumstance will not prevent the application of the prohibition certainly in respect of
the original appointment. The Court is not unaware of the difficulties that the comprehensive
prohibition against nepotism would impose upon petitioner Victoria and others who maybe in the
same position. It is essential to stress, however, that the prohibition applies quite without regard to
the actual merits of the proposed appointee and to the good intentions of the appointing or
recommending authority, and that the prohibition against nepotism in appointments whether original
or promotional, is not intended by the legislative authority to penalize faithful service.

The purpose of Section 59 which shines through the comprehensive and unqualified language in
which it was cast and has remained for decades, is precisely to take out of the discretion of the
appointing and recommending authority the matter of appointing or recommending for
appointment a relative. In other words, Section 59 insures the objectivity of the appointing or
recommending official by preventing that objectivity from being in fact tested. The importance of this
statutory objective is difficult to overstress in the culture in which we live and work in the Philippines,
where family bonds remain, in general, compelling and cohesive.
The conclusion we reach is that Section 59, Book V, E.O. No. 292 means exactly what it says in
plain and ordinary language: it refers to "all appointments" whether original or promotional in nature.
The public policy embodied in Section 59 is clearly fundamental in importance, and the Court has
neither authority nor inclination to dilute that important public policy by introducing a qualification
here or a distinction there.
It follows that the promotional appointment of petitioner Victoria by her husband, petitioner Mayor,
falls within the prohibited class of appointments: the prohibited relationship between the appointing
authority (petitioner Mayor) and the appointee (wife Victoria) existed at the time the promotional
appointment was issued. It is scarcely necessary to add that the reasons which may have moved
petitioner Mayor to issue the prohibited appointment are, as a matter of law, not relevant in this
connection. 14
II
We turn to the second issue where petitioners contend that when the promotional appointment of
petitioner Victoria was approved by Director Escobia, CSC Field Office, Bacolod City, that
appointment become complete. When petitioner Victoria took her oath of office and commenced the
discharge of the duties of a General Services Officer, she acquired a vested right to that position and
cannot, according to petitioners, be removed from that position without due process of law.
This argument misconceives the nature of the action taken by the respondent Commission. That
action was notthe imposition of an administrative disciplinary measure upon petitioner Victoria, nor
upon petitioner Mayor. There were no administrative charges in respect of which petitioner Victoria
would have been entitled to notice and hearing. The Commission, in approving or disapproving an
appointment, only examines the conformity of the appointment with applicable provisions of law and
whether the appointee possesses all the minimum qualifications and none of the disqualifications. At
all events, as the Solicitor General has noted, petitioner Victoria was afforded an opportunity to be
heard when she filed a motion for reconsideration with the Commission and there challenged the
disapproval by the Commission.
The action of the Commission was, in other words, taken in implementation of Section 59, Book V,
E.O. No. 292 and the relevant Implementing Regulations. Because the promotional appointment in
favor of petitioner Victoria was a violation of Section 59, it was null and void as being contra legem.
Section 9 of Rule V of the Omnibus Implementing Regulations sets out the principal legal
consequence of an appointment issued in disregard of the statutory prohibition:
Sec. 9. An appointment accepted by the appointee cannot be withdrawn or revoked
by the appointing authority and shall remain in force and effect until disapproved by
the Commission. However, an appointment may be void from the beginning due to

fraud on the part of the appointee or because it was issued in violation of law.
(Emphasis supplied)
A void appointment cannot give rise to security of tenure on the part of the holder of such
appointment.
The Commission is empowered to take appropriate action on all appointments and other personnel
actions, e.g., promotions. 15 Such power includes the authority to recall an appointment initially approved
in disregard of applicable provisions of Civil Service law and regulations. Section 20 of Rule VI of the
Omnibus Implementing Rules makes this clear:
Sec. 20. Notwithstanding the initial approval of an appointment, the same may be
recalled on any of the following grounds:
(a) Non-compliance with the procedures/criteria provided in the agency's Merit
Promotion Plan;
(b) Failure to pass through the agency's Selection/Promotion Board;
(c) Violation of the existing collective agreement between management and
employees relative to promotion; or
(d) Violation of other existing civil service law, rules and regulations. (Emphasis
supplied).
The recall or withdrawal by the Commission of the approval which had been issued by one of its
Field Officers, Director Escobia, was accordingly lawful and appropriate, the promotional
appointment of petitioner Victoria being void "from the beginning." The approval issued by Director
Escobia did not, as it could not, cure the intrinsic vice of that appointment.
We conclude, in respect of the second issue, that petitioners have not shown any grave abuse of
discretion, amounting to lack of excess of jurisdiction on the part of respondent Commission.
Petitioners have also complained that the letter of Congressman Carmona which had precipitated
action on the part of respondent Commission, was not a verified letter. They contend that the
Commission could not or should not have acted upon the charges raised in that letter.
We are not aware of any law or regulation requiring the letter written by the Congressman to be
subscribed under oath before the Commission could act thereon. Under its own rules and
regulations, the Commission may reviewmotu proprio personnel actions involving the position of a
Division Chief or above, such as the position of General Services Officer. 16 We hold that the
respondent Commission had authority, indeed the duty, to recall on its own initiative the erroneous initial
approval of the promotional appointment extended to petitioner Victoria, and to review the same de novo.
WHEREFORE, for all the foregoing, the Petition for Certiorari must be DISMISSED for lack of merit.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

Narvasa, C.J., Cruz, Padilla, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Quiason,
Puno, Vitug, Kapunan and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
Bidin, J., is on leave.

#Footnotes

1 An office created by the local Government Code of 1991; Sections 454 and 490,
R.A. No. 7160.
2 Annex "C," Rollo, p. 29.
3 Annex "J," Rollo, p. 36.
4 In this Resolution, the Commission had also instructed Director Caberoy "to
formally charged Mayor Rogelio R. Debulgado for violation of the law on nepotism,
conduct the formal investigation, if necessary, and submit [his] report and
recommendation to the Commission immediately." It appears that the criminal
complaint against petitioner Mayor was later withdrawn in Resolution No. 93-3320 of
the Commission; Annex "A," Petitioners' Reply, Rollo, pp. 119-120.
5 Annex "D," Rollo, p. 30.
6 Annex "F," Rollo, p. 32.
7 Annex "H," Rollo, p. 34.
8 The minimum qualifications of a General Services Officer are prescribed in Section
490 of the Local Government Code of 1991:
"Sec. 490. Qualifications, Powers and Duties. (a) No person shall be appointed
general services officer unless he is a citizen of the Philippines, a resident of the
local government unit concerned, of good moral character, a holder of a college
degree on public administration, business administration and management from a
recognized college or university, and a first grade civil service eligible or its
equivalent. He must have acquired experience in general services, including
management of supply, property, solid waste disposal, and general sanitation for at
least five (5) years in the case of the provincial or city general services officer, and
three (3) years in the case of the municipal general services officer.
The appointment for a general services officer shall be mandatory for the provincial
and city governments.
xxx xxx xxx
(Emphasis supplied)

9 On 10 September 1993, the Commission issued its Memorandum Circular No. 38,
Series of 1993, entitled "Omnibus Guidelines on Appointments and other Personnel
Actions" published in the Manila Standard, 6 October 1993; text in "Omnibus Rules
Implementing Book V of E.O. No. 292 and other Pertinent Civil Service Laws
(published by the Commission). Part VII of Memorandum Circular No. 38 reads in
relevant part as follows:
"VII. PROHIBITIONS ON APPOINTMENTS
xxx xxx xxx
2. No appointment in the national, provincial, city and municipal
governments or in any branch or instrumentality thereof, including
government owned or controlled corporations shall be made in favor
of a relative of the appointing or recommending authority, or of the
chief of the bureau of office or of the persons exercising immediate
supervision over the appointee. [Nepotism]
xxx xxx xxx
c. The following are exempted from the operation of the rules on
nepotism:
persons employed in a confidential capacity
teachers
physicians
members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
d. the nepotism rule covers all kinds of appointments be they original,
promotional, transfer or reemployment regardless of status.
xxx xxx xxx
(Emphasis supplied)
We note that paragraph 2(d), above underscored, was added by the Commission
after the controversy here involved had begun and after the promotional appointment
to General Services Officer had been issued to petitioner Victoria. The Court will not,
of course, rely upon this paragraph in resolving the first issue here presented.
Moreover, it is necessary to settle the question of whether Part VII, 2(d) of
Memorandum Circular No. 38, Series of 1993 is itself valid or whether it has
expanded the scope of the statutory norm in Section 59, something which an
implementing regulation obviously cannot do.
Paragraph 2(d) of Memorandum Circular No. 38 is quoted above basically to point
out that it sets out the understanding of the Commission of the scope and reach of

Section 59, Book V of E.O. No. 292 and that that understanding has been cast in a
form of a general regulation applicable to subsequent appointments and not limited
to the particular appointment of petitioner Victoria Debulgado.
10 See Section 30, R.A. No. 2260, as amended effective 19 June 1959 known as the
Civil Service Law of 1959; and Section 49 of P.D. No. 807 dated 6 October 1975,
known as the Civil Service Decree of the Philippines.
11 203 SCRA 195 (1991).
12 Teologo v. Civil Service Commission, 19 SCRA 238 (1990); Meram v. Edralin, 154
SCRA 238 (1987).
13 203 SCRA at 208-209.
In Sulu Islamic Association of Masjid Lambayong v. Malik (226 SCRA 193 [1993]),
respondent Judge appointed his nephew (son of his older sister) to the position of
janitor in his court, and later promoted him first as MTC Aide and later as Process
Server. The Court held that he had violated the prohibition against nepotism found in
Section 59, book VI of E.O. no. 292 for which offense, among others, respondent
was dismissed from the service. The Court did not seek to distinguish between the
original appointment of respondent Judge's nephew as janitor from his subsequent
promotional appointments.
14 It also follows that subparagraph 2(d) of Part VII, Memorandum Circular No. 38,
Series of 1993 (quoted in footnote 8, supra) does not unduly expand the scope of the
statutory norm but, to the contrary, merely faithfully reflects the scope and reach
thereof. Subparagraph 2(d) must hence be held valid and effective.
15 Section 12(14), Chapter 3, Book V of E.O. No. 292.
16 See Memorandum Circular No. 41, Series of 1991, dated 12 November 1991.