CSC suspends CHR legal officer for violating smoking prohibition

MANILA (PNA)–The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has suspended Commission on Human Rights (CHR) legal officer Robinson C. Viñas after he was found guilty of violating the smoking prohibition in government offices.

Viñas, Attorney IV of the CHR, admitted to smoking in the men’s room in the CHR Building, in clear violation of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 17,s. 2009 adopting a “100% smoke-free policy and a smoking prohibition in all areas of government premises, buildings and grounds, except for open spaces designated as smo-king areas.”

The admission came in response to a complaint filed by a certain Dr. Ed-gardo Ulysses N. Dorotheo to the CSC.

In a complaint dated January 18, 2014 and an affidavit executed on Jan. 22, 2014, Dorotheo recoun-ted that he caught Viñas smoking at the entrance of the men’s room in the CHR Building on January 17, 2014.

Dorotheo reminded Viñas of the smoking prohi-bition within the govern-ment premises and re-quested the latter to ex-tinguish the lit cigarette.

When Viñas did not comply, Dorotheo pulled out his phone to take a photo of Viñas, which irked the latter.

“Bakit, paiimbistigahan mo ako?…Baka hindi mo alam ang ginagawa mo, pakukumpiskahin ko iyan sa security,” said Viñas, according to the affidavit of Dorotheo.

Dorotheo submitted to the CSC a formal com-plaint against Viñas for violating the no smoking rule and for displaying discourtesy when he was admonished for the violation.

When the CSC for-mally charged Viñas with “simple misconduct and discourtesy in the course of official duty,” Viñas ad-mitted to the violation but argued that the CHR did not inform its employees of the CSC memo. He also denied the charge of dis-courtesy.

He stated in his coun-ter affidavit that he did not utter offensive words as claimed by Dorotheo, but was annoyed when the doctor took a photo of him without his permission as he felt his privacy was invaded.

The CSC proceeded with the formal investi-gation of the case. During the hearing on August 7, 2015, respondent Viñas admitted that he smoked within the premises of the restroom on the date and time complained of by Do-rotheo, while the prosecu-tion failed to submit any evidence of discourtesy.

With the categorical admission of the offense, the CSC found Viñas liable for simple misconduct and imposed the penalty of three months suspension from the service in its decision promulgated on November 16, 2015 (CSC Decision No. 15-0851).

With regard to the formal charge for the offense of discourtesy in the course of official duty, the CSC dismissed it for lack of substantial evidence.

“It is within the CSC’s mandate to promulgate policies for the welfare and development of our state workers. We would like to remind civil servants to heed the prohibition on smoking as this was meant to ensure a healthy and productive work force,” said CSC Chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala.

Violation of CSC MC No. 17, s. 2009 is a ground for simple misconduct, which is considered as a less grave offense, punishable by suspension of one month and one day to six months for the first offense; and dismissal from the service for the second offense. 

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