Mental incapacity as ground for dismissal

Inquirer Libre - Davao - - NEWS FEATURE - -Inquirer Research

Mental incapacity can be a ground for dismissal from office if proven but, according to the Supreme Court, a declaration of mental disorder does not automatically translate into a judgment of mental incapacity to perform work as in the case of Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) employee Vilma E. Romagos, who worked at the agency as clerk-processor. In December 1999, the MCWD informed Romagos that she would be dropped from the rolls for mental incapacity effective Jan. 1, 2000.

On Aug. 9, 1999, the MCWD barred Romagos from entering the office unless she underwent psychiatric treatment and was certified by her doctor to be mentally fit to work.

Aside from irregular attendance, several incident reports between January and August 1999 detailed how Romagos suddenly and without provocation began rambling loudly and incoherently, causing alarm and anxiety among employees and visitors. A 1989 certification issued by Dr. Augustus B. Costas and a 1991 certification issued by Dr. Renato D. Obra said Romagos was under treatment for major depression.

On Aug. 20, 1999, a medical certification issued by Obra declared Romagos physically and mentally fit to go back to work.

Romagos appealed her dismissal to the CSC Regional Office (CSCRO), questioning the procedure and factual basis of her removal from her job.

The CSCRO dismissed her appeal in June 2000. Romagos filed a motion for reconsideration but the Court of Appeals denied the motion on Oct. 29, 2002.

In 2007, the Supreme Court, in a decision written by Associate Justice Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez, reversed and set aside the resolution of the Court of Appeals.

The Supreme Court declared illegal the dismissal of Romagos and ordered the MCWD to reinstate her and pay her back wages.

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