A GENERAL knowledge on the laws and rules governing nepotism is very critical to all Philippine government officials, as it is an inherent trait of Filipinos to take care of their kamag-anak first, like in the appointment or designation of officials or employees in the government service. We hope that this article will be helpful to all officials in the government service, especially to our Department of Education (DepEd) appointing officials in light of its implementation of its “Rationalization Plan,” which basically covers the department’s nonteaching personnel in its Central, Regional and Schools Division Offices nationwide. Section 59, Book V of the Administrative Code of 1987 provided the parameters on the rule of nepotism. Thus, it states that: “All appointments in the national, provincial, city and municipal governments or any branch or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations, made in favor of a relative of the appointing or recommending authority or the chief of the bureau or office, or of the persons exercising immediate supervision over him, are hereby prohibited.”
The same section then defined the word “relative” as members of the family who are related within the third degree either of consanguinity or of affinity. Relationship by “consanguinity” refers to your relatives who are related to you by “blood” (examples are your parents, siblings and children), while “affinity” refers to your “in-laws” or relatives because of marriage.
Without discussing how to determine the degree of relationship you may have to any of your blood relatives, the prohibition on appointment covers your following relatives: your spouse, brothers and sisters, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles and aunts (meaning the siblings of your parents), and nieces and nephews (meaning the children of your siblings or your “niblings”). Thus, if you are the appointing authority, recommending authority, chief of the bureau or office, or the persons exercising immediate supervision over the appointee, then the aforementioned relatives may not be appointed as it may violate our law on nepotism. So that’s your general rule on nepotism. Is there any exception to this general rule?
Yes, as the same provisions states that the “following are exempted from the operations of the rules on nepotism: (a) persons employed in a confidential capacity; (b) teachers; (c) physicians; and (d) members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.” The law, however, requires that if the appointment falls under the exceptions on the law on nepotism, a full report of such appointment shall be made to the Civil Service Commission.
It may be important to note that “confidential capacity” refers to appointments that are at the pleasure of, or are coterminous with, the appointing authority. Also, in Laurel v. CSC, G.R. No. 71562, October 28, 1991, the Supreme Court declared that the “rule admits of no distinction between appointment or designation.”
Section 59 of the Administrative Code clearly shows the comprehensive character of the statutory prohibition against the practice of nepotism in the government service. “Except for the enumerated exceptions in the law, the rule on nepotism applies in all instances of personnel actions where the issuance of appointments is involved. The rationale for its rather broad and all-encompassing reach is to ensure the objectivity of the appointing and recommending authority on the matter of appointing or recommending for appointment a relative, which is of utmost significance in the light of the Philippines societal culture, where family bonds remain, in general, compelling and cohesive.” (Please see also page 36 of Sourcebook on Administrative Offenses in the Civil Service, published by the Civil Service Commission in September 2013, citing the case of Lee Calo, Teresita R., et al., CSC Resolution 07-2395, dated December 17, 2007.)
This column should not be taken as a legal advice applicable to any case,. as each case is unique and should be construed in light of the attending circumstances surrounding such particular case.
Lawyer Toni Umali is the current assistant secretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs of the DepEd. He is licensed to practice law not only in the Philippines, but also in the state of California and some federal courts in the United States after passing the California State Bar Examinations in 2004. He has served as a legal consultant to several legislators and local chief executives. As education assistant secretary, he was instrumental in the passage of the K to 12 law and the issuance of its implementing rules and regulations. He is also the alternate spokesman of the DepEd.