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ISSUE: Whether or not the complaint against PVAO can be considered a suit against the state.
FACTS: Isidro Animos is a World War II veteran, having been a member of the USAFFE and the guerilla forces thereafter. Originally, the case was a suit for mandamus by the petitioners against PVAO, for the payment of full pension benefits, retroactive to 1947, under Republic Act No. 65, as amended. However, the petitioner’s claim was denied on the basis that Animos’ disability was only considered partial, rather than total, according to the “Rules on Disability Ratings”, thus precluding the maximum payment of his pension benefits. The petitioner submits that the rating system adopted by PVAO is null and void.
DECISION: No. The doctrine of immunity from the suit will not apply and may not be invoked where the public official is being sued in his private and personal capacity as an ordinary citizen.
RATIO DECIDENDI: When officers and agents of the government are sued in their individual capacity, the cloak of protection from the government is removed. According to the doctrine in Ruiz vs. Cabahug: “We hold that under the facts and circumstances alleged in the amended complaint, which should be taken on its face value, the suit is not one against the Government, or a claim against it, but one against the officials to compel them to act in accordance with the rights to be established by the contending architects, or to prevent them from making payment and recognition until the contending architects have established their respective rights and interests in the funds retained and in the credit for the work done”. Hence, the complaint cannot be considered a suit against the state because it is a well-settled principle of law that we may consider a public official liable in his personal private capacity for the damage caused by his acts when done with malice and in bad faith, or beyond the scope of his authority and jurisdiction.