FACTS: On March 22, 1988, the petitioner was designated as officer-in-charge of the Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs (OVCAA) of MSU in a concurrent capacity with her position then as Vice-President for External Studies.
On January 2, 1989, the Office of the Vice-President for External Studies was merged with the OVCAA and, as such, the functions of the former were to be exercised by the latter. The petitioner was appointed acting Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs on the same day. The Board of Regents of the MSU, on May 16, 1989, approved her appointment as acting Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs. cdrep
On May 14, 1990, respondent Ahmad E. Alonto, MSU President, wrote the petitioner informing her that he has decided to tap the petitioner’s talent for the MSU system as Vice- President for Academic Affairs which position is under the administrative staff of the respondent MSU President. The petitioner, on the same date, answered that she cannot accept the position since she has already started several projects in the OVCAA which she wants to see through.
The respondent President, on May 16, 1990, designated Professor Macacuna Moslem as Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs but the latter did not accept the designation. On May 28, 1990, the respondent President issued Special Order No. 158-P designating Professor Corazon Batara, the other respondent in this case, as Officer-in-Charge of the OVCAA.

ISSUE: won the petitioner may be removed from its office by the president of MSU without valid cause.

HELD: NO. As early as 1963, this Court ruled in Tapales v. President and Board of Regents of the University of the Philippines (7 SCRA 553 [1963]) that UP Deans and Directors enjoy security of tenure and any attempt to remove them by limiting their terms of office from permanent to a five (5) year term is unconstitutional. Deans and Directors are selected from faculty members. An appointment as Professor is also needed for salary rating purposes but does not detract from the permanent nature of the administrative position (id., at pp. 554 and 556). The fact that Professor Tapales was given another appointment as Director of the U.P. Conservatory of Music does not mean that the second appointment is only temporary in nature. In the present case, the fact that Professor Marohombsar has a permanent appointment as Professor does not detract from the permanent nature of her present appointment as Vice-Chancellor, especially since the same was duly confirmed by the MSU Board of Regents. The only difference is that her position as Vice-Chancellor has a fixed term while that of Professor Tapales was until he retired or resigned.

The attempt of the respondent to solve the problem by placing the petitioner in his own administrative staff as Vice-President for Academic Affairs cannot be countenanced. The petitioner served in this capacity from 1975 to 1978 after which she became Vice- President for External Studies in 1982. The proffered position is not only less desirable to the petitioner but she expressly rejected it, preferring to stay in her present position. She thanked the respondent but stated she would not be effective in the new position while in the OVCAA she could complete a number of projects and programs. (Rollo, p. 21) The correctness of the petitioner’s stand is explained by this Court in Sta. Maria v. Lopez (31 SCRA 673 [1970]).There are transfers which appear to be promotions or lateral movements but are in truth demotions. There is no showing that the interest of the service would be served if the proffered appointment would be forced on her.

No less than the Secretary of Education, Culture and Sports, Secretary Isidro D. Cariño, opined, and the Court agrees with him, that the petitioner may not be removed from the disputed office by the MSU President without the authority of the Board. And, as correctly stated by the Secretary, Special Order No. 158-P issued by the respondent president designating respondent Batara as officer in-charge of the same office was unapproved by the Board, hence, the special order cannot revoke, or could not have revoked the designation of the petitioner as acting Vice-Chancellor. (Annex A, Petitioner’s Memorandum, Rollo, pp. 119-120)

The respondent MSU President, perhaps realizing the vulnerability of his action, submitted Special Order No. 158-P to the Board of Regents for approval. But such submission was made after the Court already issued its temporary restraining order and consequently, his action constituted contempt of Court. Considering, however, that the respondent appears to have acted in the honest albeit mistaken belief that MSU would progress faster if the executive officers serve at his pleasure and discretion, the Court rules that declaring him in contempt would be too harsh a remedy. The respondent President is, nevertheless, admonished for his action. When this Court issues a restraining order, it must be obeyed.

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