Will it be proper to protest a “designation order” given in favor of another employee?

Career advancement in the civil service should always be on the basis of qualifications, competence, moral character, devotion to duty, and perhaps, loyalty to the service, among others. Corollarily, aggrieved qualified-applicants can thereby protest on whimsical or capricious appointment extended to an unqualified applicant. An interesting case, however, caught the attention of the Supreme Court involving protest on a designation order accorded to a fellow employee which will be illustrated hereunder.

Librada is a public school teacher and has been occupying the position of Teacher III. She has been teaching for the last thirty (30) years and is currently assigned at the Villamor Air Base Elementary School in Pasay City.

Superintendent Ricardo (SDS-Pasay City) issued Division Memorandum designating Aida (Head Teacher III) as OIC-Head Teacher of P. Villanueva Elementary School and Myrna (Master Teacher II) as OIC-Principal of Don Carlos Elementary School, both schools are in Pasay City. Aida and Myrna are both incumbent teachers of  Villamor Air Base Elementary School.

Feeling that she unduly by-passed, Librada, filed with SDS Ricardo a protest contesting such designation allegedly attended with evident favoritism and gross violation of existing rules and regulations. Librada averred that both of them are not qualified for the said positions contending that their names were not included in the Division List of Promotables because they obtained failing marks in the qualifying examination. That she completed her masters degree long before Aida and Myrna completed theirs and that she became Teacher III ahead of them. And that, while their designation appears to be temporary in nature, the intent to permanently appoint them to their respective assignments could be inferred from the tenor of the Division Memorandum.

SDS Ricardo denied the protest which was subsequently affirmed by the then DECS Secretary, Civil Service Commission, and Court of Appeals for lack of merit. Is the denial of the protest in order?

The Supreme Court (SC) answered in the affirmative. SC pointed out that only appointments/promotions and not designation can be the subject of a protest in accordance with existing Civil Service rules and regulations.

Indeed, there is a marked difference between an appointment and a designation. The Court had the occasion to expound the distinction in this wise:

Appointment may be defined as the selection, by the authority vested with the power, of an individual who is to exercise the functions of a given office. When completed, usually with its confirmation, the appointment results in security of tenure for the person chosen unless he is replaceable at pleasure because of the nature of his office. Designation, on the other hand, connotes merely the imposition by law of additional duties of an incumbent official. It is said that appointment is essentially executive while designation is legislative in nature.

Designation may also be loosely defined as an appointment because it, likewise, involves the naming of a particular person to a specified public office. That is the common understanding of the term. However, where the person is merely designated and not appointed, the implication is that he shall hold the office only in a temporary capacity and may be replaced at will by the appointing authority. In this sense, the designation is considered only an acting or temporary appointment, which does not confer security of tenure on the person named.

The designation of Aida as OIC-Head Teacher of P. Villanueva Elementary School and Myrna as OIC-Principal of Don Carlos Elementary School merely imposed on them additional duties on top of those corresponding to their incumbent positions at Villamor Air Base Elementary School. Such designation did not confer upon them security of tenure in the positions which they occupy in acting capacity. (Tapispisan vs Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 157950, June 8, 2005)

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