On January 22, 2003, the Leave Division of this Court referred to Atty. Eden T. Candelaria, Deputy Clerk of Court and Chief Administrative Officer, the list of employees who incurred tardiness 10 times or more per month for 2 months during the second semester of 2002, or for 2 consecutive months in the year 2002.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Forthwith, Atty. Candelaria required the concerned employees to explain in writing, within 5 days from notice, why no disciplinary action should be taken against them.
The following are the names of the employees and their respective explanations:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
1. FE MALOU B. CASTELO, Court Stenographer II, Office of the Clerk of Court, En Banc — She was 12 times tardy in August and 10 times in October. She explained that" (d)uring the said months, I was writing papers for submission to complete the requirements of my subjects. After office hours, I have to attend to my evening classes up to 9:00 in the evening. From school, I have to go home to Meycauayan, Bulacan, reaching the place at 11:00 p.m. I have to catch time to attend to my assignments and other matters."cralaw virtua1aw library
2. SUSAN L. BELANDO, HRM Assistant, Records Division, Office of Administrative Services, Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) — She incurred tardiness 13 times in July and 11 times each in September and November. She claimed that there has been an error in the actual number of her tardiness — she was tardy for only for 8 times in July as shown by the Record of Absences and Tardiness (RAT) in the Leave Section. She explained that she incurred tardiness as she is a single parent of four children.
3. ELEONOR V. PACHECO, Records Officer I, Judicial Records Office — She was 11 times late in September, 10 times in October and 11 times in November. She claimed that she had vaginal spotting during those days as she was on her 7th month pregnancy which required her to slow down in her activities.
4. PERPETUA SOCORRO JOCELYN S. GUERRERO, Court Attorney IV, OCA — She incurred tardiness 10 times each in June and July. She stated that this Court already sanctioned her in A.M. No. 2002-15-SC for habitual tardiness for the month of June 2002. Hence, subjecting her to another disciplinary action for tardiness in the same month is tantamount to double jeopardy. For the month of July, she admitted being tardy 10 times because she was heavy with her third child. She asserted that while she was late, she did not "shortchange" the public and the Court since she reviewed an average of 20 administrative complaints daily, prepared an average of 5 travel memoranda each day, assisted in the preparation of various policy reports in the OCA, and made significant contributions to the various committees for lower courts.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
5. LOLITA T. BUENAVENTURA, Clerk II, Judicial and Bar Council — She was 10 times late in November and 14 times in December. She was tardy because she slept late at night, taking care of her father who underwent a major operation and her son who suffered from constant asthma attack.
6. MA. CECILIA C. DYCUECO, Data Entry Machine Operator, OCA — She was late 13 times in August, 11 times in September and 10 times in November. She admitted her infractions and explained that she has no housemaid. Hence, she has been attending personally to the needs of her family, especially her old parents and her aunt who has breast cancer.
7. MA. LOURDES P. BUELVA-DELA CRUZ, Bookkeeper I, PHILJA — She was 10 times late in August and 11 times in November. She explained that she attended evening review classes in August and prepared for her wedding in November. She was tardy for only a few minutes during those days which showed that she was trying her best to be on time.
8. CYRUS P. BORJA, Project Development Officer V, Program Management Office — He incurred tardiness 12 times each in October and November. According to him, this was due to heavy traffic daily from his residence in Los Baños, Laguna to this Court. Hence, he requested a change of office schedule from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. To compensate for his tardiness, he stays in the office beyond office hours.
9. MA. CIELITO L. CHUA, Clerk II, Leave Division, Office of Administrative Services, OCA — She reported late for work 10 times in July and 11 times in November. She explained that she suffered from insomnia which prevented her from waking up early. However, her tardiness did not prejudice her work performance.
After considering the explanations of the above-named employees, Atty. Candelaria made the following findings and recommendation:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"We do not find any sufficient explanation for Ms. Castelo’s habitual tardiness. This is her fourth offense and the Court, in its resolution dated November 27, 2002, warned her and several others that they will be dismissed from the service should they commit the same offense in the future. There appears to be no remorse on her part and has not lived with her promise to reform.
"Ms. Belando’s explanation is not also sufficient to exempt her from the charge of habitual tardiness. It was found out that there was error in the computer printout for the actual number of her tardiness, but such error was accounted for the month of July alone. She filed applications for half-day leave corresponding to three (3) of her twelve (12) late entries in the said month, which were subsequently approved, hence she was right in claiming that her total number of tardiness for the said month stood only at nine (9). However, she failed to convince this Office that her tardiness of eleven (11) times each in the months of September and November is excusable. Her notion that she was excused for her tardiness in the said months having indicated in the RAT that she went on half-day four (4) times in September and three (3) times in November, is likewise unacceptable. To be officially considered as half-day leave-of-absence (not tardy), an employee must file with this Office within a reasonable time the necessary application for leave of absence duly approved by his/her superior officer. This was never done by Ms. Belando. Mere indication in the RAT that an employee went on half-day leave of absence does not officially consider one’s tardiness as half-day leave of absence. It is required that an application for leave of absence covering the alleged half days must be filed.
"This Office likewise finds the explanation of Atty. Guerrero unsatisfactory. Her allegations of her average daily outputs of reviewing twenty (20) evaluation reports on administrative cases is self-serving. It is even contradicted by her own allegations that during the times she incurred tardiness, she moved slower than her normal pace as she experienced difficult pregnancy with her third child.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
"Her assertions that the work of some employees could not simply be measured by the number of hours she puts in but rather by the quality of work she does, is a misplaced argument. There is a specific regular official time for all government officials and employees to follow, stringent as it may seem, but all are bound to follow, otherwise, all will work in their own sweet time.
"CSC Memorandum Circular No. 14, s. 1991 as amended and Supreme Court Administrative Circulars 1-99 and 2-99 do not classify nor exempt any employee from the application thereof. Regardless of the nature of their work, lawyers as well as ordinary court employees are equally covered by these rules. There is a difference between being simply tardy and being habitually tardy. Being tardy is excusable, but being habitually tardy is condemnable.
"Atty. Guerrero’s claim of double jeopardy likewise does not convince us. The law on habitual tardiness speaks of ‘at least two months in a semester or two consecutive months habitual tardiness during the year’ for one to be held liable for the offense. During the first semester 2002, Atty. Guerrero incurred ten times or more tardiness in at least three months or in the months of February, April and June. If ever the month of June was included in the first charge, it was simply used as reference of her habitual tardiness for the first semester. Simply put, her tardiness for the months of February and April alone are enough bases for her to be held liable therefor for the first semester of 2002. Her tardiness for the consecutive months of June and July involves another offense. Very much different from that which she committed for the months of February and July on which she was sternly warned by the Court. Thus, her claim of double jeopardy has no support from the facts of the case.
"Except for Atty. Guerrero’s contention of double jeopardy and the efforts of Ms. Belando justifying her tardiness as spent half-days, all the other explanations are unsatisfactory as earlier pronounced by the Court and need not be belabored.
"The Supreme Court En Banc, in the aforesaid A.M. No. 00-6-09-SC dated 27 November 2002, enunciated that ‘moral obligations, performance of household chores, traffic problems and health, domestic and financial concerns are not sufficient reasons to excuse habitual tardiness, although these may be considered to mitigate administrative liability.’
"The Court has emphatically stated in the same case that ‘By their habitual tardiness, the herein employees have failed to live up to the standard of conduct set by the Court. Tardiness causes inefficiency and is prejudicial to public service.’
"ALL THE FOREGOING CONSIDERED, this Office respectfully recommends that:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
a. Ms. MALOU B. CASTELO be DISMISSED from the service this being her fourth incursion of habitual tardiness, and in consonance with the resolution of the Court dated 27 November 2002 which stated that:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
‘In the case of Castelo, Costales, Ang, Florendo and Lorico, this is the third time that they committed the same offense of tardiness. Pursuant to CSC Memorandum Circular No. 99, they should be dismissed from the service. However, for humanitarian considerations, we find the penalty of suspension for three (3) months without pay, as recommended by Atty. Candelaria, to be in order. Nevertheless, they are warned that this Court will dismiss them from the service should they commit the same offense in the future.’
b. Ms. SUSAN BELANDO be suspended for thirty (30) days this being her third incursion of the offense;
c. Ms. ELEONOR B. PACHECO be suspended for five (5) days this being her second offense;
d. The following employees be REPRIMANDED, this being their second incursion of the offense:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
1. Ms. PERPETUA SOCORRO JOCELYN S. GUERRERO; and
2. Ms. LOLITA T. BUENAVENTURA
e. The following employees be STERNLY WARNED, this being their first incursion of the offense:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
1. Ms. MA. CECILIA C. DYCUECO;
2. Ms. MA. LOURDES P. BUELVA-DELA CRUZ;
3. Mr. CYRUS P. BORJA; and
4. Ms. MA. CIELITO L. CHUA."cralaw virtua1aw library
Under Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 14, s. 1991," (a)n officer or employee of the civil service shall be considered habitually tardy if he incurs tardiness, regardless of the number of minutes, ten (10) times a month for at least two (2) months in a semester or at least two (2) consecutive months during the year."cralaw virtua1aw library
There is no question that the above-named employees incurred habitual tardiness. We cannot countenance such infraction as it seriously compromises efficiency and hampers public service. By being habitually tardy, these employees have fallen short of the stringent standard of conduct demanded from everyone connected with the administration of justice.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
By reason of the nature and functions of their office, officials and employees of the Judiciary must be role models in the faithful observance of the constitutional canon that public office is a public trust. 1 Inherent in this mandate is the observance of prescribed office hours and the efficient use of every moment thereof for public service, if only to recompense the Government, and ultimately, the people, who shoulder the cost of maintaining the Judiciary. 2 Thus, to inspire public respect for the justice system, court officials and employees are at all times behooved to strictly observe official time. As punctuality is a virtue, absenteeism and tardiness are impermissible. 3
As correctly found by Atty. Candelaria, none of the reasons relied upon by the respondents to justify their habitual tardiness merits our consideration. We have previously ruled that moral obligations, performance of household chores, traffic problems and health, domestic and financial concerns are not sufficient reasons to excuse habitual tardiness, although these may be considered to mitigate administrative liability. 4
Under Sec. 52(C)(4), Rule VI of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 19, Series of 1999, 5 habitual tardiness is penalized, as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
First Offense — Reprimand
Second Offense — Suspension for 1–30 days
Third Offense — Dismissal from the service
In the case of Fe Malou B. Castelo, this Court, in an En Banc Decision dated November 27, 2002, found her habitually tardy for the third time. A strict application of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 19 would have justified her dismissal from the service. Instead, she was meted the penalty of only suspension for three months for humanitarian considerations with a warning that she will be dismissed from the service if she will commit the same offense in the future.
Notwithstanding such warning, Castelo incurred habitual tardiness for the fourth time. However, to dismiss her from the service, as recommended by Atty. Candelaria, is too harsh. She incurred tardiness because she was attending evening classes, a manifestation of her sincere desire to improve her lot. Thus, we believe that a suspension for 4 months without pay is appropriate.
With respect to Susan Belando, records show that this is the third time she committed tardiness and that, therefore, she should be dismissed from the service. Nonetheless, for humanitarian reasons, we consider the penalty of suspension for 30 days without pay, as recommended by Atty. Candelaria, to be in order.
WHEREFORE, we find the following employees of this Court administratively liable for habitual tardiness and impose upon them the corresponding penalties, thus:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
1. FE MALOU B. CASTELO is SUSPENDED for 4 months without pay, this being her fourth offense;
2. SUSAN BELANDO is SUSPENDED for 30 days without pay, this being her third offense;
3. ELEONOR B. PACHECO is SUSPENDED for 5 days without pay, this being her second offense;
4. PERPETUA SOCORRO JOCELYN S. GUERRERO and LOLITA T. BUENAVENTURA are REPRIMANDED, this being their second offense;
5. MA. CECILIA C. DYCUECO, MA. LOURDES P. BUELVA-DELA CRUZ, CYRUS P. BORJA and MA. CIELITO L. CHUA are REPRIMANDED, this being their first offense.
They are all WARNED that a repetition of a similar offense will warrant the imposition of a more severe penalty.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Davide, Jr., C.J.
, Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio Morales, Azcuna and Tinga, JJ.
Callejo, Sr., J.
, is on leave.
1. Section 1, Article XI, 1987 Constitution.
2. Administrative Circular No. 2-99, "Strict Observance of Working Hours and Disciplinary Action for Absenteeism and Tardiness," dated January 15, 1999.
3. Administrative Circular No. 1-99, "Enhancing the Dignity of Courts as Temples of Justice and Promoting Respect for their Officials and Employees," dated January 15, 1999.
4. In Re: Imposition of Corresponding Penalties for Habitual Tardiness Committed During the Second Semester of 2000, A.M. No. 00-6-09-SC, November 27, 2002.
5. Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service.