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 One month later, he informed respondent Arandela and all the legal officers at the
AGUADERA, MANUEL B. TRAVIÑA and CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION, Provincial Attorney's Office about his decision to terminate their services.
TEOTIMO ARANDELA, CIRILO GELVEZON, TEODULFO DATO- ON,  In his letter, Governor Griño made mention of an article pertaining to the Iloilo
and NELSON GEDUSPAN office of the Provincial Attorney which appeared in the Panay News and which
February 26, 1991 | Gancayco, J. | "undermined that trust and confidence" that he reposed on them. (Specifics of
Digester: Fortun, Maria Selena Golda R. article not stated in the case.)
 Petitioner Demaisip was reappointed by Governor Griño as the Provincial
SUMMARY: Respondents held the positions of Provincial Attorney (Arandela) and Attorney.
Senior Legal Officers and Legal Officers II (Gelvezon, Dato-on and Geduspan),  Gov. Griño replaced respondent Cirilo Gelvezon with petitioner Santos Aguadera,
respectively, in Iloilo. When Gov. Griño was elected into office, he terminated respondent Nelson Geduspan with petitioner Manuel Casumpang, and respondent
respondents’ employment on the ground of his loss of trust and confidence in them Teodolfo Dato-on with petitioner Manuel Traviña.
based on a certain news article. He replaced respondents with his co-petitioners. The
 March 15, 1988: Gov. Griño formally terminated the services of the
MSPB and CSC declared that respondents had been illegally terminated. The issue here
respondents herein on the ground of loss of trust and confidence.
was whether the position of a Provincial Attorney and those of his legal subordinates
are primarily confidential in nature so that the services of those holding the said  Respondents appealed Gov. Griño’s action to Merit Systems Protection Board
positions can be terminated upon loss of trust and confidence. The Court affirmed the (MSPB) of the CSC.
MSPB and CSC’s decision with respect to the legal subordinates, who were found to  March 9, 1989: The MSPB issued an Order declaring the respondents' termination
hold highly technical positions of a permanent nature and were thus ordered to be illegal and ordering that they be immediately restored to their positions with back
restored to their positions. However, Provincial Atty. Arandela, who was found to have salaries and other emoluments due them.
held a primarily confidential position, was ordered to vacate his position.  Gov. Griño appealed from the MSPB’s Order to the CSC.
DOCTRINE: The phrase 'primarily confidential' denotes not only confidence in the  October 9, 1989: The CSC issued a Resolution affirming the order of the MSPB
aptitude of the appointee for the duties of the office but primarily close intimacy which and directed that the respondents be restored to their former legal positions and be
insures freedom of intercourse, without embarrassment or freedom from misgivings of paid back salaries and other benefits.
betrayals of personal trust on confidential matters of state. (Sir likes this definition  Petitioners filed an MR of the CSC’s decision. Such was DENIED via Resolution
according to the reviewer lolzz) on December 7, 1989.
Alternative doctrine: Confidential employees are considered as such if the predominant  Hence, this petition for review seeking reversal of the CSC decision and Resolution
reason they were chosen by the appointing authority is the latter's belief that he can share denying the MR.
a close intimate relationship with the occupant which measures freedom of discussion,
without fear of embarrassment or misgivings of possible betrayal of personal trust on RULING: Petition GRANTED with respect to provincial attorney of Iloilo. Teotimo
confidential matters of state. Arandela ordered to vacate position.
CSC decision re: Cirilo Gelvezon, Teodolfo Dato-on and Nelson Geduspan
 Petitioner Sixto Demaisip was the first appointed Provincial Attorney of Iloilo.
 He held this position from April 3, 1973 up to June 2, 1986 when he offered to Whether the position of Provincial Attorney is primarily confidential so that the
resign and his resignation was accepted by the then Acting Governor. holder thereof may be terminated upon loss of confidence. – YES
 In his resignation letter, petitioner Demaisip recommended the elevation of Petitioners
respondent Teotimo Arandela from Senior Legal Officer to Provincial Attorney.  Cadiente ruling (involving a city legal officer) must be applied because by the nature
OIC Governor Licurgo thus appointed Arandela as Provincial Attorney. of the functions of a provincial attorney and a city legal officer, their positions are
 Respondent Cirilo Gelvezon, on the other hand, was promoted from Legal Officer both primarily confidential.
II to Senior Legal Officer.
 Respondents Teodolfo Dato-on and Nelson Geduspan were both appointed to the Respondents
position of Legal Officer II.  Since the CSC has already classified the position of private respondent Arandela as
 February 2, 1988: petitioner Simplicio Griño assumed office as the newly elected a career position and certified the same as permanent, he is removable only for
governor of Iloilo. cause, and therefore Cadiente is not applicable.
Court confidence, the Court finds that Arandela was not dismissed or removed from
 The Court agreed with petitioners. Cadiente applies WRT Provincial Atty. Arandela. office when his services were terminated. His term merely expired.
 Cadiente v. Santos, citing Claudio v. Subido: The position of City Legal Officer is one
requiring that utmost confidence on the part of the mayor be extended to said Whether the Provincial Attorney’s legal subordinates (Senior Legal Officer and
officer. The relationship existing between a lawyer and his client, whether a private Legal Officers II) hold primarily confidential positions – NO
individual or a public officer, is one that depends on the highest degree of trust Petitioners
that the latter entertains for the counsel selected. Cadiente ruling applies to the subordinates as well.
 Cadiente v. Santos, citing Piñero v. Hechanova: The phrase 'primarily confidential'
denotes not only confidence in the aptitude of the appointee for the duties of Court
the office but primarily close intimacy which insures freedom of intercourse,  Cadiente does not apply to subordinates. Neither does the Besa case.
without embarrassment or freedom from misgivings of betrayals of personal  Said cases specifically dealt with the positions of city legal officer of the city and
trust on confidential matters of state. chief legal counsel of the PNB. There was no reference to their legal staff or
 Besa v. PNB (another important case): Here, the position of Consultant on Legal subordinates. As head of their respective departments, the city legal officer, the
Matters in the Office of President was held to be primarily confidential. “It is provincial attorney or the PNB chief legal counsel cannot be likened to their
equally clear that where the position partakes of the attributes of being both subordinates. The latter have been employed due to their technical
technical and confidential, there can be no insistence of a fixed or a definite qualifications. Their positions are highly technical in character and not
term if the latter aspect predominates.” confidential, so they are permanent employees, and they belong to the
 The provincial counterpart of a city legal officer appointed by the city mayor is the category of classified employees under the Civil Service Law. Thus, the items
provincial attorney appointed by the provincial governor; same thing with a of Senior Legal Officer and Legal Officer II remain permanent as classified by the
municipal attorney appointed in the municipality. The positions of city legal officer CSC. Consequently, the holders of the said items, being permanent employees,
and provincial attorney were created under RA 5185 which categorized them enjoy security of tenure as guaranteed under the Constitution.
together as positions of "trust".  The attorney-client relationship is strictly personal because it involves mutual trust
 By virtue of RA 5185, both the provincial attorney and city legal officer serve as the and confidence of the highest degree, irrespective of whether the client is a private
legal adviser and legal officer for the civil cases of the province and the city that person or a government functionary. The personal character of the relationship
they work for. Their services are precisely categorized by law to be "trusted prohibits its delegation in favor of another attorney without the client's consent.
services."  However, the legal work involved, as distinguished from the relationship,
 A comparison of the functions, powers and duties of a city legal officer as provided can be delegated. The practice of delegating work of a counsel to his
in the Local Government Code with those of the provincial attorney of Iloilo subordinates is apparent in the Office of the Provincial Attorney wherein it can be
would reveal the close similarity of the two positions. Said functions clearly reflect gleaned from the power granted to such officer to exercise administrative
the highly confidential nature of the two offices and the need for a relationship supervision and control over the acts and decision of his subordinates.
based on trust between the officer and the head of the local government unit he  It is possible to distinguish positions in the civil service where lawyers act as
serves. The "trusted services" to be rendered by the officer would mean such counsel in confidential and non-confidential positions by simply looking at the
trusted services of a lawyer to his client which is of the highest degree of proximity of the position in question in relation to that of the appointing
trust. (Basically, city legal officer = provincial atty., so Cadiente applies by analogy.) authority. Occupants of such positions would be considered confidential
 The fact that the position of respondent Arandela as provincial attorney has already employees if the predominant reason they were chosen by the appointing
been classified as one under the career service and certified as permanent by the authority is the latter's belief that he can share a close intimate relationship
CSC cannot conceal or alter its highly confidential nature. with the occupant which measures freedom of discussion, without fear of
embarrassment or misgivings of possible betrayal of personal trust on
 As in Cadiente where the position of the city legal officer was duly attested as
confidential matters of state.
permanent by the CSC before this Court declared that the same was primarily
confidential, the position of respondent Arandela as the provincial attorney of  This implies that positions in the civil service of such nature would be limited to
Iloilo is also a primarily confidential position. To rule otherwise would be those not separated from the position of the appointing authority by an
tantamount to classifying two positions with the same nature and functions in two intervening public officer, or series of public officers, in the bureaucratic
incompatible categories. This being the case, and following the principle that the hierarchy. In certain cases, "City Legal Officer" and "Private Secretary to the
tenure of an official holding a primarily confidential position ends upon loss of President" were considered primarily confidential by the Court. On the other
hand, a customs policeman serving in the Harbor Patrol, in relation to the
Commissioner of Customs, and an executive assistant, stenographer, or clerk in own man by terminating the services of the one holding the position, regardless of
the Office of the President, were not considered so by the Court. his competence and performance, on the basis (in reality, pretext) of an alleged
 There is no need to extend the professional relationship to the legal staff which "loss of confidence", leaving the appointees to said position at the mercy of the
assists the confidential employer above described. Since the positions occupied Governor's whims and caprices. Such would encourage partisan politics.
by these subordinates are remote from that of the appointing authority, the  The content of the article wasn’t stated in the termination letter. The reason for
element of trust between them is no longer predominant. The importance of the termination is thus unsubstantiated, vague and uncertain.
these subordinates to the appointing authority now lies in the contribution of
their legal skills to facilitate the work of the confidential employee. At this Sarmiento, J., Concurring and Dissenting
level of the bureaucracy, any impairment of the appointing authority's interest  He agrees that the Provincial Attorney position is primarily confidential BUT
as a client, which may be caused through the breach of residual trust by any believes that Cadiente and Basa should apply to legal assistants or subordinate
of these lower-ranked lawyers, can be anticipated and prevented by the lawyers in appropriate cases. The latter should be considered primarily confidential
confidential employee, as a reasonably competent office head, through the as well. Anent the claim that the positions of assistant legal officers or subordinate
exercise of his power to "review, approve, reverse, or modify" their acts and lawyers is highly technical and not confidential, this contention is not supported by
decisions. At this level, the client can be protected without need of any evidence on record or any basis in law. On the contrary, the function of an
imposing upon the lower-ranked lawyers the fiduciary duties inherent in the assistant or a subordinate legal officer, as can be gleaned from the Local
attorney-client relationship. Hence, there is now no obstacle to giving full effect Government Code, is to "assist the chief officer and perform such duties as the
to the security of tenure principle to these members of the civil service. latter may assign him." I cannot see how such a function can be any less
confidential than that of the chief legal officer.
Petitioners  Absent any showing of substantial distinctions between the nature of the work or
 Respondents are estopped from protesting the termination of their services function of the provincial attorney and that of the legal assistants or subordinate
because their actions collectively amount to an acceptance of their termination: lawyers, it is logical to presume that both public officers handle confidential
applying for clearances, not remaining in office and signing their payroll for March matters relating to the legal aspect of provincial administration.
15, 1988 acknowledging therein that their appointment "terminated/expired." NOTES
 Corpus v. Cuaderno (1965): When confidence is lost and the officer holding a primarily
Court confidential position is separated from the service, such cessation entails no removal but
 The respondents did the abovementioned acts because their services were actually an expiration of his term. (Same doctrine stated in Hernandez v. Villegas.)
dispensed with by Gov. Griño. As a consequence of their termination, they could o There being no removal or dismissal it could not be said that there was a violation
not remain in office and as required of any government employee who is separated of the constitutional provision that 'no officer or employee in the civil service
shall be suspended or dismissed except for cause as provided by law' (Article XII-
from the government service, they had to apply for clearances. However, this did
B, Section 1 (3), 1973 Constitution). (Hernandez v. Villegas)
not mean that they believed in principle that they were validly terminated. They
 Ingles v. Mutuc (1960): When an incumbent of a primarily confidential position holds office at
protested their termination with the CSC within 1 month from the time of the pleasure of the appointing power, and the pleasure turns into a displeasure, the
termination. This is a reasonable time. incumbent is not removed or dismissed from office — his term merely expires, in much the
same way as an officer, whose right thereto ceases upon expiration of the fixed term for
Padilla, J., Concurring and Dissenting: which he had been appointed or elected, is not and cannot be deemed removed or dismissed
 He agrees that legal assistants/subordinates of the Provincial Attorney hold highly therefrom, upon expiration of said term. The main difference between the primarily
technical positions, making them permanent employees, but doesn’t concur in the confidential officer and the latter is that the latter's term is fixed or definite, whereas the
ruling WRT the Provincial Attorney. former’s term is not pre-fixed, but indefinite, at the time of his appointment or election,
and becomes fixed and determined when the appointing power expresses its
 Although the power to appoint the Provincial Attorney is vested in the Governor, decision to put an end to the services of the incumbent. When this event takes place, the
however, the said local public officer is an employee of the provincial government latter is not removed or dismissed from office; his term merely expired.
to which he owes his loyalty, and not to the elected Governor, for he is not part of  RA 5185, SEC. 19: Creation of positions of Provincial Attorney and City Legal Officer. — To enable
the latter's personal or confidential staff. He may be removed from office for the provincial and city governments to avail themselves of the full time and trusted services
incompetence, dishonesty, or other misconduct but not for the Governor's loss of of legal officers, the positions of provincial attorney and city legal officer may be created and
confidence in him, which by its very nature, can be as broad as anything such officials shall be appointed in such manner as is provided for under Section four of this
imaginable. Act. For this purpose, the functions hitherto performed by the provincial and city fiscals in
 A career position should be developed for the Provincial Attorney to minimize the serving as legal adviser and legal officer for civil cases of the province and city shall be
transferred to the provincial attorney and city legal officer, respectively.”
"spoils system", whereby every time a new Governor is elected, he can appoint his