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Preclaro vs Sandiganbayan, 247 SCRA 454

Posted by Pius Morados on November 7, 2011

(Public Officers, Non-Career Service) Facts: Accused is a project manager/consultant of the Chemical Mineral Division, Industrial Technology Development Institute, Department of Science and Technology, a component of the Industrial Development Institute which is an agency of the DOST. He is to supervise the construction of the ITDI-CMD building, while the Jaime Sta. Maria Construction undertook the construction. The structure is jointly funded by the Philippine and Japanese Governments. While the said construction has not yet been completed, accused either directly requested and/or demanded for himself the sum of P200,000.00, claimed as part of the expected profit of the contractor. Petitioner was charged for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for committing said offense in relation to the performance of his official duties. Petitioner asserts in a petition for review that he is not a public officer because he was neither elected nor appointed to a public office, but merely a private individual hired by the ITDI on contractual basis for a particular project and for a specified period. Hence the Sandiganbayan erred in taking cognizance of the case. Section 2 (b) of RA 3019 defines a public officer to include elective and appointive officials and employees, permanent or temporary, whether in the classified or unclassified or exemption service receiving compensation, even nominal, from the government Issue: WON a private individual hired on a contractual basis by the government is a public officer. Held: Yes. The word includes used in defining a public officer indicates that the definition is not restrictive. The terms classified, unclassified or exemption service were the old categories of position in the civil service which have been reclassified into Career Service and Non-Career Service by PD 807 providing for the organization of the Civil Service Commission by the Administrative Code of 1987. A private individual hired on a contractual basis as Project Manager for a government undertaking falls under the non-career service category of the Civil Service and thus is a public officer as defined by Sec 2(b) of RA 3019. Under Book V, Title I, Subtitle A, Chapter 2, Sec 6(2) of the Administrative Code of 1987, non-career service in particular is characterized by 1) entrance other than those of the usual test of merit and fitness utilized for the career service; and 2) tenure which is limited to a period specified by law, or which is coterminous with that of the appointing authority or subject to his pleasure, or which is limited to the duration of a particular project for which purpose employment was made. Section 9(4) of the same provides that Non-Career Service It shall include Contractual personnel or those employment in the government is in accordance with a special contract to undertake a specific work or job, requiring special or technical skills not available in the employing agency, to be accomplished within a specific period, which in no case shall exceed one year, and performs or accomplishes the specific work or job, under his own responsibility with a minimum of direction and supervision from the hiring agency