Dy v. Pascua : AM P-04-1798 : May 27, 2004 : J. Callejo Sr : Second
Division : Decision
[A.M. NO. P-04-1798 : May 27, 2004]
JUDGE AMALIA F. DY, Complainant, v. ATTY. BONIFACIO S. PASCUA, Clerk
of Court, and ANITA G. OLIVEROS, Clerk III, Regional Trial Court of Mandaluyong
City, Branch 213, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
The instant administrative matter stemmed from a Memorandum dated
August 12, 2002 issued by Judge Amalia F. Dy of the Regional Trial Court of
Mandaluyong City, Branch 213, referring to a shouting incident which transpired
between the respondents, Branch Clerk of Court, Atty. Bonifacio S. Pascua, and
Anita G. Oliveros, Clerk III, during office hours and while trial was
ongoing.In the same memorandum, Judge
Dy stated that the court proceedings were disturbed as the voice of the
witness testifying as well as manifestations of counsels cannot be heard
forcing said court to pause to find out what was going on at the staff room.
After stating that the questioned behavior amounted to disrespect and may be
considered as contemptuous, Judge Dy ordered their suspension as follows: Atty.
Pascua for two days, effective August 13 and 14, 2002, and Oliveros for one
day, effective August 13, 2002.Both respondents wrote letters to Judge Dy
questioning their suspension, claiming that it was imposed summarily without
giving them an opportunity to be heard.
When asked to comment on the matter, Judge Dy clarified that the
questioned suspension was imposed on the respondents as disciplinary action for
their unruly behavior, and not for contempt of court as alleged by them.As such, a formal hearing was no longer
necessary. Judge Dy also stated that the two have had similar encounters,
especially whenever the monthly reports were being prepared.This was necessary to maintain discipline in
the office and, more importantly, to serve as an example to the rest of the
Judge Dy also clarified that the allegation that she immediately
suspended the respondents was not true.After the trial on August 12, 2002, at around 12:10 p.m., one of her
stenographers, Connie G. Dumato, tried to hand over to her a resolution signed
by some of the staff requesting her not to impose any sanction against the
respondents.She called the respondents
to her chambers and, in a closed-door meeting, the respondents were given an
opportunity to explain their side.Judge
Dy attached the sworn statements of Court Stenographers Homer P. Peada1 and Connie G. Dumato2 as proof of the incident.
Pursuant to the recommendation of the Court Administrator, the
Court, in a Resolution dated January 13, 2003, resolved to (a) treat the
memorandum of Judge Dy as an administrative complaint for discourtesy in the
performance of official duties against Atty. Pascua and Oliveros; (b) require
the respondents to comment on Judge Dys memorandum and letter; (c) set aside
the penalty of suspension imposed by Judge Dy upon the respondents; and, (d)
direct the Office of the Court Administrator to rectify the consequences of
such suspension, without prejudice to the disciplinary action, if any, that the
Court may take on the matter.
Thereafter, the respondents filed a Joint Manifestation with
Motion to Dismiss dated March 31, 2003.They alleged, inter alia, that they intimated their intention to amicably settle
the instant administrative matter with Judge Dy, and that they exhibited
tremendous reformation and excellent performance in the quality of their work
and the conduct of their behavior.Judge
Dy herself, in a Letter dated March
12, 2003, manifested that she was no longer interested in pursuing
the instant administrative complaint against the respondents, as both had
apologized to her, promising to always abide by pertinent rules and
The respondents also maintained that the dismissal of the
complaint against them would foster and create a harmonious working
relationship among the staff.The
respondents further explained that it was not the intention of Judge Dy to file
a formal administrative complaint against them.Judge Dy furnished the Court Administrator with a copy so that it would
form part of the respondents personal records.
In the meantime, in response to the query made by the Office of
the Court Administrator, the Financial Management Office reported that
respondents Pascua and Oliveros paid the amount of
P1,753.10 and P283.74,
respectively, corresponding to the money value of the number of days of
suspension imposed upon them. The said amounts were settled under Original
Receipt Nos. 14568318 and 14568320, respectively, both dated September 11, 2002.The Leave Division of the OCA also informed
the Court Administrator that the memorandum issued by Judge Dy suspending the
respondents had no effect on their leave credits, as it was not deducted nor
considered as vacation leave without pay.In a memorandum to the Court Administrator, the Legal Office,
thereafter, recommended that the Financial Management Office be directed to
refund the respective amounts paid by the respondents, to enable the said
office to fully comply with the Courts January 13, 2003 Resolution.
In a Resolution dated July
9, 2003, the Court resolved to deny the respondents joint
manifestation with motion to dismiss.The respondents, thereafter, filed their comment, in compliance to the July 9, 2003 Resolution of the Court.
According to the respondents, what took place on August 12, 2002 was, in fact, a
normal and casual discussion of office matters, particularly the listing of
possible maximum imprisonment of pending criminal cases before Branch 213.The conversation was made in a seemingly
reasonable loud voice, enough to be understood by both respondents.They averred that they had no intention to
disturb the ongoing court proceedings, and, as such, implored the Courts
indulgence so as not to consider the incident as discourtesy in the performance
of official duty.
In his Memorandum dated February
12, 2004, Deputy Court Administrator Christopher O. Lock opined
that the respondents are guilty of discourtesy in the course of official duties
and should be reprimanded for their actuations.
The Courts Ruling
It must be stressed that the Courts disciplinary authority
cannot be dependent on or frustrated by private arrangements between
parties.An administrative complaint
against an official or employee of the judiciary cannot simply be withdrawn by
a complainant who suddenly claims a change of mind.Otherwise, the prompt and fair administration
of justice, as well as the discipline of court personnel, would be undermined.3 In this case, Judge Dys manifestation that it was not her intention to file an
administrative complaint against the respondents does not operate to divest
this Court with jurisdiction to determine the truth behind the matter.
At the outset, the Court would like to make it clear that judges
are authorized to discipline erring court personnel in their respective salas. Such authority, however, must not be exercised
arbitrarily. According to Circular No. 30-91:4 cralawred
(1) Disciplinary matters involving light
offenses as defined under the Civil Service Law (Administrative Code of 1987), and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and
Employees (Rep. Act 6713) where the penalty is reprimand, suspension for not
more than thirty days, or a fine not exceeding thirty days salary, and as
classified in Civil Service Resolution No. 30, Series of 1989, shall be acted
upon by the appropriate supervisory official of the lower court concerned.
(2) The appropriate supervisory officials are
the Presiding Justices/Presiding Judge of the lower collegiate courts and the
Executive Judges of the trial courts with respect to the personnel of their
respective courts, except those directly under the individual Justices and
Judges, in which case, the latter shall be their appropriate supervisory
(3) The complaint for light offenses whether
filed directly with the Court, the Office of the Court Administrator, or the
lower court, shall be heard and decided by the appropriate supervisory official
Civil Service Resolution No. 9919365 classifies discourtesy in the course of official duties as a light offense, the
penalty for which is reprimand for the first offense, suspension of one to
thirty days for the second offense, and dismissal for the third offense.6 cralawred
Considering that it was the respondents first offense, Judge Dy
had no authority to suspend them outright.The respondents should have been reprimanded for their unruly behavior
while trial was ongoing, thus, disrupting the proceedings.We agree with the following findings and
recommendation of the Court Administrator:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Respondents acts of conversing or discussing in loud voice while
court session is going on shows discourtesy and disrespect not only towards
their co-employees or their judge but to the court. Such conduct exhibits failure
on both respondents to discharge their duties with the required degree of
professionalism. Clearly, they were not merely having a normal and casual
discussion as what respondents would want to impress upon this Court. A court
proceeding was apparently disrupted because of their loud voices. The court is
looked upon by people with high respect and is regarded a sacred place where
litigants are heard, rights and conflicts settled and justice solemnly
dispensed. Misbehavior within and round the vicinity diminishes its sanctity
and dignity. (Policarpio v. Fortus, 248 SCRA 272).
It is our view that respondents are guilty of discourtesy in the
course of official duties. Under Rule XIV, Section 23 of the Rules Implementing
Book V of Executive Order No. 292, Discourtesy in the Course of Official Duties
is considered a light offense, and the first infraction is punished with a
reprimand. In the instant case, respondents are, likewise, first-time
offenders; hence, a penalty of reprimand is proper.7 cralawred
The respondents ought to be reminded that
the image of a court of justice is necessarily mirrored in the conduct,
official or otherwise, of the men and women who work thereat, from the judge to
the least and lowest of its personnel.Hence, it becomes the imperative sacred duty of each and everyone in the
court to maintain its good name and standing as a true temple of justice.8 Court personnel must, at all times, act with strict propriety and proper
decorum so as to earn the publics regard for the judiciary.Improper behavior, particularly during office
hours, exhibits not only a paucity of professionalism at the workplace but also
a great disrespect to the court itself.Such a demeanor is a failure of circumspection demanded of every public
official and employee.9 The Court condemns and would never countenance any conduct, act or omission on
the part of all those involved in the administration of justice, which would
violate the norm of public accountability and diminish or even just tend to diminish the faith of the people in the
discourtesy in the course of official duties, respondents Atty. Bonifacio S.
Pascua and Anita G. Oliveros are REPRIMANDED and STERNLY WARNED that a
repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt with more severely.
The Financial Management Office is DIRECTED to refund the amount
P1,753.10 to respondent Atty. Bonifacio S. Pascua and the amount of P283.74
to respondent Anita G. Oliveros.
Quisumbing, (Acting Chairman),
Austria-Martinez, and TINGA, JJ., concur.
on official leave.
4 Re: Guidelines of the Functions of the Office of the Court Administrator dated September 30, 1991.
5 Entitled Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service.
7 Memorandum dated February 12, 2004,
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