Ernesto M. De Guzman vs. Hon. Abelardo Subido, G.R. No. L-31683, January 31, 1983, 205 Phil. 373

Facts:
Petitioner was appointed patrolman in the Quezon City Police Department by Mayor Norberto S. Amoranto. He was a civil service eligible having taken and passed the civil service patrolman’s examination. He had also passed the usual character investigation conducted before appointment. As a newly appointed patrolman, the petitioner went through and successfully completed the police training course. The petitioner’s appointment was forwarded to the Commissioner of Civil Service. A year after the appointment and with no action on the appointment papers being taken by the respondent commissioner, the respondents city treasurer and city auditor stopped the payment of the petitioner’s salaries. The respondent commissioner returned the Petitioner’s appointment papers, without action thereon, to the respondent mayor on the ground that Mr. de Guzman was disqualified for appointment under Republic Act No. 4864, the Police Act of 1966, which provides: (d) SEC. 9. General Qualifications of Appointment. —No person shall be appointed to a local police agency unless he possesses the following qualifications: (5) He must have no criminal record.'(SEC. 9 (5), Police Act of 1966)

The above finding was based solely on the petitioner’s own answer to question No. 15 in the information sheet: 15. Have you been accused, indicted, or tried for the violation of any law, ordinance, or regulation, before any court or tribunal? The answer given by the petitioner was: Yes. Jaywalking-paid fine P5.50; Municipal O.d. (Mla.) Sect. 1187 (cochero) paid fine of P5.00

Aggrieved, Petitioner when to the SC to question the ruling of the Civil Service Commission.

Issue:
Whether violations and/or convictions of municipal ordinances, one, for ‘Jaywalking’ and the other, constitute ‘CRIMINAL RECORD’ to disqualify the petitioner.

Held:
The requirements for applicants to a policeman’s position may be quite stringent but the basic policy of attracting the best qualified is not served by automatically excluding any person who in an absent minded mood or while hurrying to an urgent appointment may unwittingly have crossed a street or stepped down from the curb in violation of a jaywalking ordinance. The same thing is true of a person who may have worked his way through college as a cochero and, who, pitying his horse struggling up an incline or a bridge, leaves his seat to stand after and forward to balance the calesa load or who, alone on his way home, sits in the seat intended for passengers only to be fined for violating an obscure municipal ordinance.

The common-law definition of a ‘crime’ as given by Blackstone, is ‘an act committed or omitted in violation of a public law,’ … giving the accused the right to be heard in all ‘criminal prosecutions’ relates exclusively to prosecution for violation of public laws of the state, and a city ordinance is not a public law of the state, but a local law of the particular corporation, made for its internal practice and good government.
The phrase “criminal record” governing qualifications for appointments could not have been intended by the legislature to automatically cover every violation of a municipal or city ordinance carrying a sanction of a nominal fine to enforce it. A violation of a municipal ordinance to qualify as a “crime” must involve at least a certain degree of evil doing, immoral conduct, corruption, malice, or want of principles reasonably related to the requirements of the public office.

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