WHEN former Camarines Norte provincial legal officer Sim Mata Jr. advised Governor Edgardo Tallado to appeal a decision of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) reversing the transfer of a former provincial veterinarian, he thought he was simply doing his job.
However, the Sandiganbayan said the lawyer’s improper advice caused undue injury to former veterinarian Edgardo Gonzales because he was not paid salaries and benefits due him after he was transferred to another post and eventually dismissed without a valid ground.
With this pronouncement, the anti-graft court’s Third Division denied Mata’s motion for reconsideration in which he argued that it was Tallado’s action, rather than his legal advice, that was the real cause of the injury.
In the 36-page resolution penned by Presiding Justice Amparo M. Cabotaje-Tang, the court said the fault weighs against the legal officer who was expected to give a sound legal opinion.
Tallado, testifying in his defense, said he filed an appeal to the CSC ruling based on Mata’s opinion that he should try to exhaust all legal remedies.
The prosecution said the appeal made worse the wrongful removal of Gonzales from his post since the CSC resolution made it clear that the directive for reinstatement was immediately executory.
Even Mata’s claim that Tallado had a personal grudge against Gonzales failed to find traction in the anti-graft court’s evaluation.
“The prosecution evidence established that it was accused-movant Mata Jr. who prepared Memorandum No. 121119-02 which formally recommended to accused Tallado the dropping of Gonzales from the rolls. There was nothing for accused Tallado to do but affix his signature thereon,” the court noted.