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Nini Lanto v.

Topic: Public Office and Responsibility
1. Petitioner, Nini Lanto, served as the Director II of the Administrative
Branch of the POEA. As Director II, she was tasked to sign-off on pay
disbursements of the employees of POEA.
2. The present case stems from the ruling of the SC in Dimapilis-Baldoz
v. COA
a. There, the SC held that Leonel Labrador, the chief of the POEA
Employment Services Regulation Division of the POEA was
guilty of bribery. He was dismissed from service.
b. Notwithstanding such dismissal, the COA found that payments
of salaries and wages to the said dismissed employee still
c. COA then declared that the officials of the POEA directly
responsible in allowing such payment to be held personally
3. The petitioner became aware of such developments and immediately
wrote to COA seeking reconsideration.
a. She claimed that there was lack of due process on her part and
that she exercised her functions in good faith. She claimed that
Labrador had daily time records submitted during the period
(sketchy), and that Labrador even rendered performance
reports during such period
b. She claimed that no information was passed to her regarding
the case and that Labrador was later on discharged from
service. Also, she was on a foreign assignment during the
pendency of such case.
4. COA denied the request, hence this petition.

Issue: Whether the defense of good faith in the performance of duties is

tenable to exclude personal liability for making a disallowed payment of
salaries and benefits of a dismissed public employee.

Held: Yes, it is. Petition partially granted.

1. In this case, the Court held that the COA failed to show that Lanto
was properly appraised of the criminal case, the same not being
indicated in Labrador’s 201 File.
2. It is a standing rule that every public official is entitled to the
presumption of good faith in the discharge of official duties, such that,
in the absence of any proof that a public officer has acted with malice
or bad faith, he should not be charged with personal liability for
damages that may result from the performance of an official duty.
3. Good faith is always presumed and he who alleges the contrary bears
the burden to convincingly show that malice or bad faith attended the
public officer’s performance of his duties.
4. COA failed to show proof of malice and bad faith on the part of Lanto.
Furthermore, not extending the benefit of good faith and regular
performance of duty to the petitioner herein would be unfair and
unjust if the Court absolved the petitioner in Dimapilis-Baldoz v.
Commission on Audit from personal liability for the same disallowed
salaries of Labrador on the basis of good faith.