Mendoza v. Buo-RIvera : AM P-04-1784 : April 28, 2004 : J. Puno : Second
Division : Resolution
[A.M. NO. P-04-1784.
April 28, 2004]
RENATO R. MENDOZA,
R E S O L U T I O N
This administrative matter against Antonia C. Buo-Rivera, Court
Stenographer III of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 55, stemmed from
her own letter-complaint1 addressed to the Acting Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila
Enrico A. Lanzanas, charging petitioner Renato R. Mendoza, Sheriff of RTC
Manila, Branch 18, with unbecoming behavior for allegedly committing the
1.Shouting huwag kang
maniwala diyan (referring to Rivera),
niloloko ka lang niyan, binobola
ka lang niyan, while she was talking to Eduardo S. Divina, Legal
Researcher of RTC Manila, Branch 18, at the hallway of the 4th floor
of Manila City Hall, on February 5, 2002; andcralawlibrary
nandito na naman iyang putang-inang letseng babaeng iyan (referring to
Ikaw Gerald iwasan mo ang
babaeng iyan at masamang impluwensiya iyan at baka ikaw mabuyo while she
was at the corridor adjacent to the office of RTC Manila, Branch 18, looking
for Gerardo M. Capulong, Court Stenographer III of RTC Manila, Branch 18, on
May 15, 2002.
Acting on this letter-complaint, Judge Lanzanas directed Mendoza
to file his comment/answer.2 In his comment/answer,3 Mendoza denied the allegations against him.
He attached the affidavits of Eduardo S. Divina4 and Atty. Carolina Peralta-Comon,5 Branch Clerk of Court of RTC Manila, Branch 18, to attest that the complained
acts did not take place.
attached the joint affidavit of three of Riveras co-employees in RTC Manila,
Branch 55, to prove that Rivera is a known troublemaker and is in a habit of spreading
wild rumors and sowing intrigues.6 Mendoza prayed that the complaint against him be dismissed and that Rivera be
administratively charged for sowing intrigues and making false accusations.7 cralawred
While Judge Lanzanas was conducting an investigation on the
complaint, a formal complaint-affidavit arising from the same alleged acts was
filed by Rivera with the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) charging
Mendoza with conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.8 Judge Lanzanas indorsed the case to the OCA.9 The administrative matter was docketed as A.M. OCA I.P.I. No. 02-1415-P.
Based on the records transmitted to it, the OCA, through Deputy
Court Administrator Christopher O. Lock, recommended the dismissal of Riveras
complaint upon a finding that (a) side from her bare allegations, she did not
present any evidence to substantiate her claim, such as the affidavits of her
On the contrary, it was
respondent who was able to substantiate his defense by obtaining the affidavits
of Mr. Divina and Atty. Peralta-Comon both of whom affirmed his statement that
he never uttered the scurrilous remarks against complainant.10 cralawred
On October 9, 2002, this Court adopted the findings of the OCA
and dismissed the case of Rivera v. Mendoza, A.M. OCA I.P.I. No. 02-1415-P,
for lack of merit.11 cralawred
On November 19, 2002, Rivera filed a motion for reconsideration.12 She attached the affidavit of Gerardo M. Capulong who confirmed her allegation
that the second scurrilous remarks were made.13 cralawred
On February 24, 2003, this Court resolved to reconsider and set
aside its Resolution dated October 9, 2002 and refer Riveras complaint to
Judge Lanzanas for further investigation.
This court also directed the OCA to docket the instant administrative
matter and consolidate it with Riveras complaint.Hence, the OCA docketed Mendozas countercharge as A.M. I.P.I.
No. 03-1584-P and consolidated it with A.M. OCA I.P.I. No. 02-1415-P.
Acting on this Courts resolution, Judge Lanzanas conducted
further hearings for reception of evidence. After evaluating the evidence,
Judge Lanzanas recommended the dismissal of Rivera v. Mendoza, A.M. I.P.I. No.
02-1415-P, for lack of merit. In Mendoza v. Rivera, A.M. I.P.I. No. 03-1584-P,
Judge Lanzanas found Rivera guilty of spreading gossips and false rumors and
recommended a fine of one (1) month salary with the admonition that repeated
conduct will be severely dealt with.14 cralawred
The report of Judge Lanzanas was referred to the OCA for
On November 23, 2003,
Deputy Court Administrator Lock agreed with the findings of Judge Lanzanas but
modified the recommended penalty as follows:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
1.That the complaint
against respondent sheriff Renato R. Mendoza, docketed as A.M. OCA I.P.I. No.
02-1415-P be dismissed for lack of merit; andcralawlibrary
2.That in A.M. OCA I.P.I.
No. 03-1584-P, respondent Antonia C. Buo-Rivera be held guilty of Conduct
Unbecoming of a Public Servant and be fined Php 5,000.00, with warning that a
repetition of the same or similar act in the future will be dealt with more
On February 2, 2004, this Court resolved to dismiss Rivera v. Mendoza, A.M. I.P.I. No. 02-1415-P, for lack of merit.
Hence, the instant administrative matter was
redocketed as A.M. No. P-04-1784.
We agree with the findings of the OCA and approve its recommended
It is well-settled that in administrative proceedings, the
complainant has the burden of proving by substantial evidence the allegations
in his complaint.16 Substantial evidence is such amount of relevant evidence that a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.17 cralawred
The charge of making false accusations was proven by substantial
The falsity of Riveras allegations is patent from the
Rivera testified that the
first scurrilous remarks were made in the presence of Eduardo S. Divina18 while the second remarks were uttered in the presence of Gerardo M. Capulong
and Atty. Carolina Peralta-Comon, among others.19 Divina and Atty. Peralta-Comon outrightly testified that no such scurrilous
remarks were made.20 Capulong, on the other hand, refused to testify when a subpoena was issued to
He submitted an explanation to
Judge Lanzanas asking that he be excluded from testifying because both parties
are his friends and that he cannot stand firm for one and against with another.21 It was only after the original complaint was dismissed by this Court that he
executed an affidavit attached to Riveras motion for reconsideration
confirming Riveras testimony that the second scurrilous words were
As correctly pointed out by
both Judge Lanzanas and Deputy Court Administrator Lock, however, the reason
for his change of heart was not sufficiently explained. In fact, the
credibility of his testimony is rendered doubtful by his own declaration that
one of his reasons for taking Riveras side is Mendozas alleged menacing
attitude towards him after the dismissal of Riveras complaint.22 In any case, Capulong testified that Atty. Peralta-Comon, Divina, Elena
Arcenal, Romulo Bermudes and Sherry Cervantes also witnessed the second act
complained of.23 However, like Atty. Peralta-Comon and Divina, Cervantes denied that Mendoza
uttered the second scurrilous remarks.24 cralawred
It is notable that Mendoza presented in his favor the testimonies
of the very people alleged by Rivera and Capulong to have witnessed the
complained events Atty. Carolina Peralta-Comon, Eduardo Divina and Sherry
Cervantes. Rivera herself declared that she had no misunderstanding with Atty.
Peralta-Comon and Divina.25 In fact, Atty. Peralta-Comon is the wife of her cousins nephew.26 It is also worthy to note that Rivera did not present the other alleged
witnesses to rebut the testimonies of these three witnesses. It is therefore
clear that Rivera is guilty of falsely accusing Mendoza.
The charge of sowing intrigues was also sufficiently established.
Ma. Lourdes S. Castillo, Arlene R. Calditaran and Isabelita D.
Artus, co-employees of Rivera in RTC Manila, Branch 55, executed a joint
affidavit stating that they personally know Rivera as a troublemaker and as
someone who spreads wild rumors and gossips and causes quarrels among other
employees by sowing intrigues.27 Castillo testified that Rivera told her suitor that Castillo was heavily
indebted and that he deserved a better woman.28 Castillo also testified that Rivera had a quarrel with their other officemates,
namely, Arlene R. Calditaran, Isabelita Artus and Rosanna Esteban.29 The testimonies of Calditaran and Artus were offered as evidence to support
that Rivera caused a fight between their former process server Cesar Sebastian and
his wife Fely by spreading the rumor that the bracelet being sold by Mr.
Sebastian was the lost bracelet of his wife.30 Mendoza testified that Rivera caused his childhood friend Police Inspector
Alfredo Opriaza to challenge him to a gun duel and fistfight when she told
Opriaza, who had a pending case with RTC Manila, Branch 55, that Mendoza was
working for his conviction.31 Furthermore, Cervantes testified that Rivera was being avoided by most of her
co-employees in RTC Manila, Branch 18 because of her habit of spreading
Rivera hardly offered any evidence to counter these damaging
While presenting quite a
number of witnesses to refute the testimony of Artus that she discouraged the
staff of Branch 41 from eating at the canteen of their cooperative,33 she did not present any evidence to rebut the more important charges against
She did not even present her other
co-employees in RTC Manila, Branch 55, to rebut the damaging statements of
Castillo, Artus and Calditaran or other employees in RTC Manila, Branch 18, to
disprove the testimony of Cervantes.
Rivera merely presented as witness Atty. Raymund U. Tan, President of
the Philippine Association of Court Employees, who testified that she is perceived
to be morally above reproach and a responsible officer.34 Surely, the lone testimony of Atty. Tan who had no personal knowledge of the
events leading to this administrative matter cannot overcome the positive
testimonies of Riveras co-employees who interact with her everyday.
Time and again this Court has stressed that the conduct of
everyone connected with the dispensation of justice, from the judges to the
most junior of clerks, must at all times be characterized with propriety and
decorum.35 Riveras acts of making false accusations and sowing intrigues are acts
unbecoming of a public servant.
against the principles of public service as solemnly enshrined in the 1987
the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees
(R.A. No. 6713). Such acts rob the
attention of public employees and courts from more imperative tasks and result
in undue wastage of government resources.
Such contemptible kind of behavior must not be tolerated if we are to
demand the highest degree of excellence and professionalism among public
employees and preserve the integrity and dignity of our courts of justice.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, we find Antonia C. Buo-Rivera guilty of
conduct unbecoming of a public servant and impose on her a fine of
with a stern warning that repetition of the same or similar acts in the future
will be dealt with more severely.
Quisumbing, Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr. and TINGA, JJ., concur.
Dated May 22, 2002; Rollo
, p. 11.
Memorandum dated May 22, 2002; Id
. at p. 13.
Dated June 7, 2002; Id
. at p. 15.
Report and Recommendation dated August 6, 2003, p. 6.
Memorandum dated November 23, 2003, p. 4.
Section 5, Rule 133, Rules of Court.
TSN, July 29, 2002, p. 15.
TSN, April 8, 2003, pp. 14-16.
TSN, April 1, 2003, pp. 14-15.
TSN, May 13, 2002, p. 30.
TSN, May 20, 2003, p. 33.
TSN dated May 13, 2003, pp. 72-74.
TSN dated April 8, 2003, p. 56.
De Jesus v.
Collado, A.C. No. 3806 (1992).
Section 1, Article XI.
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