Re: Alleged Tampering of the DTR of Sherry B. Cervantes : AM
03-8-463-RTC : May 20, 2004 : J. Austria-Martinez : Second Division :
[A.M. NO. 03-8-463-RTC : May
Re: Alleged Tampering of the Daily Time Records (DTR) of
Sherry B. Cervantes, Court Stenographer III, Branch 18, Regional Trial Court
R E S O L U T I O N
Atty. Caridad A. Pabello, the Officer-in-Charge of the Office of
the Administrative Services (OAS) in the Office of the Court Administrator
(OCA) submitted a Memorandum1 dated 18 August 2003 to the OCA, relative to the alleged tampering by herein
respondent, Sherry B. Cervantes, Court Stenographer III, Regional Trial Court,
Branch 18, Manila (RTC for brevity) of her Daily Time Record (DTR) for October
Atty. Pabello reported that she noticed some alterations made on
the DTR of respondent, particularly on October 1, 2, 10, 11, 16, 17, 24 and 29,
2002. She referred the matter to Atty. Carolina V. Peralta-Comon, Clerk of
Court V of the RTC, who required respondent to comment on said report.
In her Explanation dated January
14, 2003, respondent alleges:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
In this regard, the undersigned desire to state on record that
although the questioned entries in her DTR seemed to be tampered such
impression is more apparent than real and illusory. The deceiving appearance of
tampering was due to the inkblot or stain caused by the defective signpen that
I used in making the entries2 .
Atty. Comon found the explanation to be satisfactory. Upon
request of the OAS, Elena Arcenal, the employee in-charge of the logbook,
submitted the original logbook of Branch 18.
Upon evaluation thereof, the OAS concluded that the dates written on the
logbook, particularly October 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 8, 2002 appear to be tampered.
In compliance with the OCAs 1st Indorsement3 dated August 26, 2003, respondent filed her Comment,4 dated September 24, 2003, asserting that she has nothing to do nor did she have
any participation in the tampering of the dates in the logbook of RTC, Branch
18, Manila and referred the matter to Arcenal to clarify said matter.
On October 10, 2003,
the OCA directed Arcenal to comment on respondents asseverations.5 On even date, the OCA likewise directed Atty. Comon to comment on the
photocopies of the logbook wherein the dates covering October 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and
8, 2002 seem to be tampered.6 cralawred
In her Comment7 dated October 28, 2003,
Arcenal gave the following explanations: The last date on the old logbook that
was filled up with signatures and dates of arrival and departures of court
employees was September 23, 2002.
On September 24, 2002, she
entered the dates beginning September
24, 2002 up to October 1,
2002 on the new logbook as the old logbook has been almost consumed.
While she was doing this, a
court employee suggested to her that the new logbook should start with October
1, 2002 instead of September
24, 2002. Finding the suggestion to be more proper and logical, she
erased the newly entered dates of September 24, 2002 to October 1, 2002 on the
new logbook through a liquid paper correction and superimposed on the erased
dates, the new dates starting October 1 to 8, 2002; and she wrote the dates of
September 24, 2003 up to September 30, 2003 at the dorsal portions of the old
logbook to avoid confusion.
that no tampering transpired in the new logbook.
In her Comment8 dated November 3, 2003,
Atty. Comon corroborated the statements made by Arcenal and attested that there
was no tampering that took place but plain and simple imprudence innocently
committed by Arcenal, which the OCA finds plausible.
However, the OCA found that respondent Cervantes is guilty of gross
dishonesty or serious misconduct insofar only as the respondents entry in her
DTR on October 2, 2002 is
concerned. It recommended that respondent be fined
P5,000.00 with a
stern warning that a repetition of the same will be dealt with more severely.
We approve the OCAs findings and recommendation as to respondent
As to Arcenal, she deserves
to be admonished to be more efficient in the performance of her duties.
An examination of the DTR of respondent Cervantes reveals that on
October 2, 10, 11, 17, 24 and 29, 2002, the entries thereat show
superimpositions or alterations made by
her on said dates.
handwritten entries of 8:00 as respondents time of arrival on October 11, 17
and 24 in her DTR tally with the entries in the logbook.
But a doubt is created when the handwritten
entry of the time under the column for arrival in her DTR on October
10, 2002 appears to have been altered from 9:00
to 8:00.For October 29, 2003,
the entry of arrival cannot be readily discerned whether it is 8:00
or 8:30 because of what appears to
be superimpositions or alterations on the written time. Respondent explains
that the superimpositions or alterations referred to were caused by inkblots or
stains due to her defective signpen.
There being no controverting evidence, we give her the benefit of the
doubt as the possibility that what appears to be superimpositions or
alterations, may, indeed, have been caused by her defective signpen is not
However, the entry of respondent under the column for arrival in
the DTR for October 2, 2002 does not only show a superimposition or alteration
to reflect that the time of respondents arrival is 8:00, it also contradicts
the entry in the logbook for the same date wherein it appears that the time of
her arrival is clearly written as 8:30, sans any inkblot or stain.
Evidently, there is no way that it can be
attributed to a defective signpen.
Thus, the OCA is correct in concluding that respondent had deliberately
made it appear on her DTR that she was not late by 30 minutes on October
It is well to remind respondent that public office is a public
The conduct and behavior of
everyone connected with an office charged with the dispensation of justice,
from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk, is circumscribed with the heavy
burden of responsibility.9 Those involved in the administration of justice must live up to the strictest
standards of honesty and integrity in the public service.10 cralawred
Section 11 of Administrative Circular No. 2-99 of the Supreme
Court, entitled Strict Observance of Working Hours and Disciplinary Action for
Absenteeism and Tardiness reads:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Absenteeism and tardiness even if such do not qualify as habitual
or frequent under Civil Service Memorandum Circular No. 04, Series of 1991,
shall be dealt with severely, and any falsification of daily time records
to cover up for such absenteeism and/or tardiness shall constitute gross
dishonesty or serious misconduct.(Emphasis supplied.)
Under the schedule of penalties adopted by the Civil Service,
gross dishonesty or serious misconduct is classified as a grave offense and the
penalty imposable is dismissal. However, inasmuch as this is respondents first
offense,11 it is considered a mitigating circumstance in respondents favor.12 Thus, as recommended by the OCA, respondent should be meted a fine of
WHEREFORE, Sherry B.
Cervantes, Court Stenographer III, RTC, Branch 18, Manila is found GUILTY of GROSS DISHONESTY or SERIOUS MISCONDUCT and FINED the amount of Five Thousand
P5,000.00). She is STERNLY WARNED that the commission of
a similar offense will be dealt with more severely.
Elena Arcenal is admonishedto be more efficient in the
performance of her duties.
Let copies of herein Resolution be furnished the Office of the
Administrative Services, Office of the Court Administrator.
Quisumbing, (Acting Chairman),
Callejo, Sr., and TINGA, JJ., concur.
Puno, (Chairman), J., on
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