THE LEGAL BASES OF “TEACHERS ASPERSONS IN AUTHORITY” •Introduction •Definitions of “Persons in Authority” •P in A distinguished from Agents of Person in Authority •Original concept of Teachers as Persons in Authority •When a Teacher is not deemed a Person in Authority •Direct assault differentiated from resistance and disobedience •Limitations
INTRODUCTION This chapter presents a discussion on the legal bases of “Teachers as Persons in Authority”. The importance of this dimension in the life of teachers cannot be overemphasized. In several instances, the authority of the teacher had been put to the limelight. With this topic is to discuss the legalities behind the phrase “teachers as persons in authority”.
DEFINITIONS OF PERSONS IN AUTHORITY Under the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, a person in authority is one “directly vested with jurisdiction, whether as an individual or a member of some court or government corporation, board or commission.” (article 152, Revised Penal Code).
IN ESSENCE, TEACHERS ARE NOT PERSON INAUTHORITY SINCE THEY ARE NOT DIRECTLYVESTED WITH JURISDICTION OR POWER TOGOVERN AND EXECUTE LAWS. BUT “BY LEGALFICTION” BECAUSE OF THE PROVISIONS OFCOMMONWEALTH ACT 578 DULY AMENDED BYARTICLE 152 OF THE REVISED PENAL CODE,TEACHERS BECAME PERSONS IN AUTHORITY
BY THE PHRASE “DIRECTLY VESTED WITHJURISDICTION” IS A MEANT THE POWER ORAUTHORITY TO GOVERN AND EXECUTE THE LAWS,PARTICULARLY THE AUTHORITY VESTED IN THEJUDGES TO ADMINISTER JUSTICE, THAT IS, TRYCIVIL OR CRIMINAL CASES OR BOTH AND TORENDER JUDGMENT IN ACCORDANCE WITH LAWS(PEOPLE VS. MENDOZA, 59 PHIL. 163).
THE TERM PERSONS IN AUTHORITYACCORDING TO COURT DECISIONS, ALSOINCLUDE MUNICIPAL MAYOR, PROVINCIALFISCALS, MUNICIPAL COUNCILORS ANDBARANGAY CHAIRMAN
PERSONS IN AUTHORITY DISTINGUISHED FROMAGENTS OF PERSON IN AUTHORITYPersons in authority should not be taken to mean asagents of a person in authority. This is because anagent of a person in authority is one who, by “directprovision of law or by election or by appointment bycompetent authority is charged with the maintenance ofpublic order and the protection and security of life andproperty, such as barrio policeman and any person whocomes to the aid of persons in authority.”The following are considered as agents of persons inauthority: policeman, municipal treasurer, postmaster,rural policeman, sheriff, agent of the BIR. So when apoliceman claims that he is a person in authority, he isabsolutely and legally wrong because he is just anagent of the persons in authority.
PERSON IN AUTHORITY AS DIFFERENTIATEDFROM PUBLIC OFFICERPersons in authority should also bedifferentiated from public officer. A publicofficer is “any person who, by direct provisionof law, popular elections or appointment bycompetent authority, shall take part in theperformance of public functions in thegovernment of the Philippines or shallperform in said government public duties asan employee, agent or subordinate official orany rank or class.” Article 203, Revised PenalCode).
In essence, therefore, anyperson in the government serviceis a public officer as defined. Butthe important thing is that he is notnecessarily a person in authorityor an agent thereof.
ORIGINAL CONCEPT OF TEACHERS ASPERSONS IN AUTHORITY It is originally conceived that law did not consider teachers a person in authority. It was held in People vs. Mendoza, 59 Phil 163, that when a high school student slapped his teacher on the check while she was engaged in the performance of her duties as a teacher, the crime committed was only a “light felony. This offense is punishable by the imprisonment of not more than 30 days instead of “assault” upon a person in authority punishable up to 6 years of prison correctional.
What happened, then was that when theperson attacked or slapped or boxed was theteacher and the attacker was the student orpupil, the only aggravating circumstance wasthat the act was committed with grave insult orin utter disregard for the respect which may duethe teacher on account of his rank. This iscontained in U.S vs. Cabiling, 7 Phil. 769. Bythat time, there was no mantle of protectionaccorded to teachers.
From then on, there were several instances of assault and attacks against teachers, instructors, professors, and other public and private officials of schools. With the passage of Commonwealth Act No. 578 on June 8, 1940 which amended Article 152 of the RPC, this picture completely changed. With that Act, teachers, professors and the persons charged with supervision of educational institutions were raised to the rank of the persons in authority. The intent and spirit behind the amendment are very obvious. They are inherently rooted in the very person of the teacher who is not merely an intellectual referee in the intellectual playfield and in the market of ideas but a person of dignity and respect.
WHEN A TEACHER IS NOT DEEMED A“PERSON IN AUTHORITY”There are instances when the teacher evenwhile inside the school premises is not coveredby the phrase “person in authority”•When the teacher goes out of the classroom totalk to a person on matters not related to theschool or his duties.•Assault upon a person in authority,nevertheless, does not consist merely inattacking or laying hands on the persons inauthority. It also extends to serious resistance.This means that there is active resistance orserious intimidation on the part of the attacker.
TEACHERS AND THEIR SECURITY OFTENURE: SOME LEGAL BASESThe phrase “ security of tenure” is aconstitution guarantee. The 1987Philippine Constitution, Article IX, B. TheCivil Service Commission, Sec. 2, subsection 3 states: No officer or employeeof the civil service shall be removed orsuspended except for cause provided bylaw. Sub-section 6 also provides:Temporary employees of the Governmentshall be given such protection as may beprovided by law.
THE ESSENCE OF SECURITY OF TENUREProfessor Vicente G. Sinco in his book PhilippinePolitical Law, has stated: “Nothing can be moredemoralizing to a group of civil servants than the fearthat they might be removed from their posts anytime atthe pleasure of their superiors.”Thus , it is essentially true that a demoralized force is aninefficient force. Security of tenure is a conditio sinequa non (condition that is indispensable) for obtainingefficiency and effectiveness in the Civil Service.Security of tenure does not only mean that theemployee is protected against illegal dismissal. It is alsoguarantees the employees against unwarrantedtransfers made without their consent.