ALTHOUGH the Supreme Court ordered her six-month suspension over her display of “excessive influence,” Cebu City Assistant Prosecutor Mary Ann Castro may still have something to celebrate.
The City Legal Office ruled that Castro is entitled to receive her three months allowance from the City amounting to P30,000, which were withheld from June to August 2011 due to grave misconduct charges she faced with the ombudsman.
In his three-page legal opinion, City Legal Officer Jerone Castillo agreed to release Castro’s allowance after the Court of Appeals ruled with finality on the dismissal of the grave misconduct complaint filed by the Ombudsman Visayas against her.
The appeals court had also reversed the anti-graft office’s three-month suspension on Castro and ordered to pay back the prosecutor’s back salaries and allowances that were withheld during her suspension.
“It is a well-settled rule that in the absence of an express provision prohibiting the granting of benefits or privileges, the law should be construed in favor of the employee or beneficiary,” said Castillo.
Castro, interviewed over the phone, welcomed the decision.
“I merely receive what I’m supposed to receive. Thank God, our justice system worked,” Castro said.
She expects the release of her stipend from the City Government this week.
She also said that the Department of Justice will soon release her withheld basic salaries and stipend totaling to P161,569.
Castro’s monthly stipend and salaries were withheld by the DOJ and the City Government after the ombudsman found her liable for grave misconduct and ordered her suspended for three months without pay.
Castro was charged before the anti-graft office in 2004 by brothers Jake and Nanak Yu for allegedly lying before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 56 in Mandaue City.
Castro said the ombudsman’s act of proceeding to resolve the administrative aspect of the complaint and the issuance of her suspensions are illegal and invalid.
She said the first petition she filed before RTC Branch 56 in 2000 was based on Article 36 of the Family Code on the ground of psychological incapacity.
The second petition she filed before RTC Branch 60 was based on fraud under Article 45 and 46 of the Family Code.
Castillo pointed out that the allowances received by public officials and employees are privileges granted by law as benefits, which should serve as “loyalty and service” rendered by public officials.
Castillo said that such benefits should not be withheld unless for a valid cause.
The six-month suspension resulted from a separate case.