Apuyan Jr v. Sta Isabel : AM P-01-1497 : May 28, 2004 : J.
Austria-Martinez : Second Division : Resolution
[A.M. NO. P-01-1497 : May 28, 2004]
HORACIO B. APUYAN, JR. and ALEXANDER O. EUGENIO, Complainants, v. ALFREDO G. STA.
ISABEL, Sheriff IV, Regional Trial Court (Branch 161),
R E S O L U T I O N
Before us is a complaint for Gross Misconduct, Conduct Unbecoming
of a Public Official and Graft and Corruption filed by Horacio B. Apuyan, Jr.
and Alexander O. Eugenio against Alfredo Sta. Isabel, Sheriff IV, Regional
Trial Court, Branch 161, Pasig City
(RTC for brevity).
The complaint against Sheriff Sta. Isabel was filed before the
Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) on February 22, 2000.In compliance with the 1st Indorsement dated March 29, 2000 of the OCA, the
respondent filed his Comment on May 4,
their Reply Affidavit on October 27,
2000.Respondent submitted a
Rejoinder dated December 3, 2000
denying complainants allegations in the Reply-Affidavit.
In our Resolution dated August
20, 2001,1 we referred the
administrative matter to Executive Judge Edwin A. Villasor of the Regional
Trial Court, Pasig City,
for investigation, report and recommendation.The Executive Judge then conducted several hearings where both parties
presented their respective evidence.
Witnesses for the complainants were Horacio B. Apuyan, Jr.,
Alexander O. Eugenio, Atty. Norberto Ortiz Perez, Mario Pangilinan; and Court
Stenographer Ramona Teresita Vega, as rebuttal witness.
At the hearing held on January 3, 2002, complainant Apuyan, Jr.,
through counsel, manifested that he is adopting the Joint-Affidavit Complaint2 as his direct testimony wherein it is averred that: complainants are employees
of plaintiff corporation in a civil case3 pending before the RTC, docketed as Civil Case No. 67654;that in connection with said case, a writ of
attachment was issued by the RTC against the monies and properties of
defendants; on February 8, 2000, complainants fetched respondent in his office
and together with Process Server Julio Bautista and a certain Rey de Leon, they
proceededto the Western Police District
to fetch some police officers to assist them in the implementation of the writ
of attachment; respondent started to dictate to complainants that the police
officers should receive no less than
P1,000.00 each and another P1,000.00
for each mobile car used;they proceeded
to the office of defendant corporation and while in said office, respondent
told them that he was able to gather information relative to defendants bank
account that can be the subject of garnishment;respondent started hinting that the ongoing sheriffs rate in Manila is
5% while it is 3% in Pasig but he is willing to settle for a 0.05% share based
on the total amount of P10,000,000.00, that was the subject of
attachment;complainant Apuyan called
their counsel, Atty. Norberto Ortiz Perez, who requested respondent to
immediately garnish said account; respondent replied that he could not do so
for he failed to bring with him the necessary papers;Atty. Perez then told respondent to effect
garnishment the following morning and assured respondent that he will instruct
his client to prepare monetary goodwill for respondent; after levying some
properties of defendant, they and the group of respondent proceeded to their
(complainants) office where complainant Apuyan handed respondent an envelope
respondent saw the amount, he threw the envelope and cursed them, saying that
the amount of P2,000.00 is a big insult to his person; complainant
Eugenio tried to pacify respondent who then demanded to see the company
president; complainants told respondent that their president is out of the
country and explained to him that Atty. Perez promised to give respondent some
goodwill money when the garnishment is effected the next day;respondent blurted out that from then on, he
would no longer effect the garnishment;the next day, or on February 9, 2000, while complainant Apuyan was
waiting for their case to be called in court relative to a hearing of a Motion
to Discharge Attachment filed by the defendant, respondent grabbed his collar,
uttering, O, ano ang gusto mong mangyari ngayon?;4 respondents
officemates intervened to avoid further harm and embarrassment to complainant
Apuyan; on February 10 and 11, 2000, respondent did not report for work to
avoid proceeding with the garnishment; on February 14, 2000, complainant Apuyan
and Atty. Perez went to court to file a Motion to Assign a Special
Sheriff;while they were waiting along
the courts corridor, respondent came out of the staff room and started cursing
them and vehemently denying the allegations in their motion; respondent uttered
to Atty. Perez, Ikaw, abogado ka lang, baka hindi mo ako kakilala, hindi
ako basta bastang sheriff.Ididimanda
kita ng libel, gago.Puwede ako sa
physical, puwede ako sa mental.Hindi ko
palalagpasin and ginawa ninyo sa aking ito; thereafter, complainant Apuyan
and Atty. Perez obtained a copy of the courts Order granting the assignment of
a special sheriff, and pursuant thereto, Sheriff Mario Pangilinan was assigned
to their case; on February 15, 2000, however, respondent submitted his
Sheriffs Report stating that the writ of attachment was duly satisfied.
During cross-examination, complainant Apuyan further testified
Q: After surrendering the
equipment here in the Justice Hall in Kapitolyo, where did you go if any?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: Sheriff Sta. Isabel
demanded for Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos service fee and I told Sheriff
Sta. Isabel that we have no money but since you are very persistent on that may
we just go to our Office and have a snack and then we could endorse the same
with the former Chief Operating Officer.
Q: Can you tell this
Honorable Court if this demand is made in writing?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: It was not actually made
in writing because I think nobody will do it in writing.Actually the very first time that he insisted
for Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos was before our lunch during the time that
the process of attachment was made where Alex approached me together withSheriff Sta. Isabel informing me that Sheriff
Sta. Isabel was able to chance upon an account number, Metro Bank account
number of Peoples Trans-East Asia Insurance, Corp. and the money worth Fifty
Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos so while inside the lobby they approached me and so
I asked him if it is really true and he said yes, hawak ko na ang alas alam ko
na and bank account number ng Peoples Trans-East but first you have to give me
at least .5% of the Ten Million (P10,000,000.00) Pesos so I told him siguro
igarnish muna natin in a dialect.
.. .. .. .. .
Q: And is it also true that
one of the reasons as stated to you by the Respondent for refusing to issue a
notice of garnishment is the possibility of over levy?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: No sir.
Q: He did not tell you that?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: No, the very word that
he told us is that he will not push through with the garnishment if we will not
able to bring out the Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos that he demanded from
Q: Did you pay the
Respondent any amount for his services?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: He demanded for the
amount and we gave him Two Thousand (P2,000.00) Pesos to make his initial
demand from us but instead of taking it, I was insulted, berated and he threw
the money on my face.5 cralawred
Complainant Alexander Eugenio also adopted the aforementioned
Joint Affidavit-Complaint as his direct testimony.On cross-examination, he further testified as
A: Actually when this
particular incident happened I was standing outside the building when Sheriff
Sta. Isabel approached me and told me that he has chanced to see the account
no. of Peoples Trans-East Asia Insurance Corporation with the Metrobank.As a matter of fact, he showed me the inside
cover of the folder he was holding and he told me this is the account number
and he told me in vernacular that hawak ko na and alas, alam ko na and account
number ng Peoples Trans-East Asia sa Metro Bank and we can garnish the
account of Metro Bank with the condition that we should give him the half
percent (1/2%) of what we have (sic) claiming after Peoples Trans-East Asia
Insurance Corporation which is equivalent to Fifty Thousand (P50,000.00) Pesos
and then I told him that I am not in a position to decide on that matter and I
suggested to open this up to Mr. Apuyan who is in-charge of that activity as
far as our companys concerned.
.. .. .. .. .
Q: Who handed the envelope
to Sheriff Sta. Isabel pursuant to this statement?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: It was Mr. Horacio
Apuyan who handed the envelope.
Q: And it also states here
that he threw the envelope, where did he throw the envelope?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: He threw it to Mr.
Apuyan, to his face.6 cralawred
Another witness for complainants, Atty. Norberto Perez, testified
as follows:He first came to know
respondent when they talked over the phone on February 8, 2000 during the time that the writ of
preliminary attachment was being implemented.He had to talk to respondent over the phone because the latter was
insinuating that he would not serve the notice of garnishment if he is not paid
P50,000.00.He was only able to
talk personally to respondent on February
14, 2000 when he was at the corridor in front of Branch 161, RTC, Pasig
City and respondent confronted him,
shouting at the top of his voice cursing him (Atty. Perez) and complainant
Apuyan.Respondent only stopped shouting
and cursing when he was pacified by some BJMP people, police officers and other
court personnel who told him to keep quiet because there was a hearing going
Sheriff Mario Pangilinan testified that he was appointed as the
special sheriff and proceeded to serve the notice of garnishment of the
accounts of defendant corporation on several banks.For his efforts, he received
goodwill money from plaintiff corporation.8 cralawred
For respondents defense, the testimonies of respondent Alfredo
Sta. Isabel himself, Process Server Julio S. Bautista and Atty. Emmanuel R.
Jabla were presented.
Respondent adopted his Comment dated May 2, 2000 as part of his direct testimony.In his Comment, he contends as follows:The complaint was brought about by a personal
grudge between him and complainant Apuyan.He implemented the writ of attachment on February 8, 2000.While in the course of effecting the writ, he talked to Atty. Perez on
the phone because the latter wanted him to garnish defendants bank
account.He made the excuse that he was
not prepared to do so for he did not have a notice of garnishment. He never
made mention of any monetary consideration during their phone
conversation.He believes that Atty.
Perez was not pleased with his response. Thereafter, he and his co-employees
proceeded to complainants office upon the latters invitation for snacks.At said office, no snacks were offered, but
complainant Apuyan handed him an envelope. His co-employee opened the envelope
and showed him that it contained two pieces of
P1,000.00 bills.He refused to take the envelope and
complainant Apuyan made an outburst, saying Why do you have to ask me to give
you so much money?That is illegal.I know the same fact (sic) because I am a law
student!You are very corrupt!.9 The next day, February 9, 2000,
he prepared a notice of garnishment but complainants did not come to see him or
even call him.On February 10, 2000, complainants went to court but
he was then on sick leave. On February
14, 2000, when complainants went to court for the hearing of their
Motion for Appointment of Special Sheriff, he confronted Atty. Perez regarding
the allegations made in said motion.Atty. Perez said, Hoy, huwag mo akong question-in, sheriff ka lang
at malapit na ang katapusan mo!10 and a verbal tussle
ensued between him and Atty. Perez.
At the hearing held on January
18, 2002 before the Executive Judge, respondent denied that he ever
touched any of the complainants or their counsel.He insists that only a verbal altercation
transpired between them.On cross-examination,
however, respondent admitted that on February 9, 2000, complainant Apuyan was
there at the staff room of Branch 161, RTC Pasig City, and he even told said
complainant to get out of the staff room, contradicting his statement in his
Comment that on said date of February 9, 2000, he prepared a notice of
garnishment but complainants did not come to see him or even call him.11 cralawred
Respondent also recounted that at the time they went to
complainants office, there was already animosity between him and Mr. Apuyan,
but he still acceded to the latters invitation for snacks at their office,
with the intention to see Dr. Cenon Alfonso, the company president, supposedly
to complain about Apuyans arrogant demeanor.Respondent also admitted that there is a contradiction between his
statement in paragraph 22 of his Rejoinder that he was not able to memorize the
numerals contained in the account number of defendant corporation and his
testimony where he stated that he did, in fact, see and note down the account
number and told complainants about it.12 cralawred
The next witness for respondent, Process Server Bautista, adopted
his Joint Affidavit13 dated May 3, 2000
as his direct testimony wherein he stated that:he proceeded with respondent and complainants to the office of defendant
corporation to effect the writ of attachment; respondent was able to see some
checks issued by defendant corporation but respondent stated that he was not
able to memorize the account number; complainants wanted respondent to
immediately garnish said bank account, and Atty. Norberto Perez even talked to
respondent over the phone, but respondent said he could not proceed with the
garnishment as he did not have the necessary papers with him; they went to
complainants office for snacks and there, complainant Apuyan placed an
envelope on top of the table; thereafter, Apuyan returned to where he,
respondent, and a certain de Leon were seated and Apuyan started yelling at
respondent, calling the latter corrupt; respondent was angered by the
accusation;Apuyan then told respondent
that if the latter did not want to take it,Thank You, anyway, then placed the envelope into the pocket of his
polo-shirt; respondent never made any demand for money from complainants; that when
complainants and Atty. Norberto Perez filed a Motion for the Appointment of
Special Sheriff, a verbal tussle occurred between Atty. Perez and respondent;
and when they learned that an administrative case had been filed against
respondent, he executed the affidavit of his own free will to help respondent.
On cross-examination, Process Server Bautista stated that they
went to complainants office not mainly because they were invited for snacks
but rather, Hindi ko alam kung kasama na ang snack pero ang alam ko doon
mayroong ibang trabahong pag-uusapan kaya nagyaya sila.14 With regard to the confrontation between complainant Apuyan and Atty. Perez on
the one hand and respondent on the other, witness Bautista testified thus:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Q: Were you present during
the altercation between Atty. Perez, Mr. Apuyan and Sheriff Sta. Isabel?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: I was not there sir.
.. .. .. .. .
Q: You did not see any of
the events where there was an altercation among them?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: I was at the Office sir
at the session hall because we were having a hearing sir.
.. .. .. .. .
Q: If you were inside the
courtroom at the time that there was an altercation among Sheriff Sta. Isabel,
Atty. Perez and Horacio Apuyan how would you able to quote and unquote what was
uttered by Atty. Perez?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: Kasi nasa may pintuan
lang ako ng session hall sa tabi ng staff room narinig ko lang parang may
malakas na nag-uusap kaya sumilip ako, narinig ko na ung pag-uusap nila yung
pangyayari na yun.
.. .. .. .. .
Q: How long were you peeping
at the corridor at the time that there was an altercation among them?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: Noong narinig ko na may
malakas na nag-uusap sumilip lang ako tapos pumasok na ako sa staffroom hindi
na maganda yung tono ng pag-uusap nila sabi ko tama na yan, alam nyo naman yan
Q: What do you mean by alam
nyo naman yan Atty.?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: Nandoon po kayo nandoon
din po ako sabi ko tama na yan para lang tumigil na dahil naghehearing si Judge
Alicia Mario-Co.15 cralawred
The last witness for respondent, Atty. Emmanuel Jabla, merely
stated that he is a retained lawyer of defendant corporation and he knows for a
fact that respondent sheriff was actually able to levy on the building and land
and some equipment of said defendant; that he warned respondent to refrain from
further levying on other properties of defendant because it would be a case of
On rebuttal, complainants presented Court Stenographer Vega who
testified that she remembers an incident when respondent grabbed complainant
Apuyan, holding the latter by the collar.17 cralawred
After the parties presented their respective evidence, Executive
Judge Villasor submitted his Report dated March 13, 2002, finding that the
details of what transpired at the complainants office on February 8, 2000 and
of the incident that happened in the court premises on February 14, 2000 are
only based on the self-serving versions of the complainants and respondent
sheriff;18 that only the reprehensible conduct of respondent in collaring complainant
Apuyan had been established; and recommending that respondent sheriff be fined
the amount of
The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) disagrees with the
findings and recommendation of Executive Judge Villasor.Based on the evidence presented, it found
that respondent really made the demand of 0.05% of the amount to be garnished
from the bank account of defendant corporation; that there was a verbal
altercation that transpired between respondent and Atty. Perez within the court
premises; and that respondent collared complainant Apuyan, on which bases, it
recommends the suspension of respondent for one year without pay.
After a careful examination of the records, we agree with the
findings and recommendation of the OCA, the same being in accord with the
evidence presented and the law.We find
no cogent reason to disregard the same, except that what is clear on the basis
of the testimonies of complainants are that respondent demanded for the payment
P50,000.00, not 0.05% of the P10,000,000.00, subject of the
writ of preliminary attachment, or P500,000.00 mentioned by the OCA.
We agree with the finding of the OCA that respondents
explanations do not inspire belief due to the inconsistencies in his
allegations in his pleadings and his testimony and that of his witness, Court
Process Server Bautista.We quote and
adopt the OCAs dissertation on this matter, to wit:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
On the other hand, respondent testified that after effecting the
writ on February 8, 200219 (sic),
they went to
complainants office upon the latters invitation to have some snacks.However, upon arrival at the office
premises, complainant Apuyan left them at the garden and went inside the
office.No snacks were offered.Apuyan later came out of the office and
placed an envelope on top of a garden table in front of respondent sheriff and
went back inside the office.Respondent
never touched the envelope.About 20
minutes later, Process Server Bautista opened the envelope despite respondents
warning not to touch it, and showed the latter its contents of two P1,000.00
bills then returned it back on the table.Fifteen (15) minutes thereafter, Apuyan came out of the office, went
straight at him, hurling invectives and blurting out, Why do you have to
ask me to give you so much money?That
is illegal.I know the same act (sic)
because I am a law student!You are very
However, in the Manifestation with Motion dated 1420 (sic) February 2000 (marked as Exh. A for complainants and Exh. 1 for
respondent) filed by respondent, he stated therein:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
6.That there was no occasion that he had thrown
the envelope containing the
P2,000.00 as the undersigned place (sic)
the same neatly on top of the table and gently pushed it with his fingers
towards Mr. Apuyan who in turn placed the same envelope towards the pocket of
his polo shirt and said, THANK YOU, ANYWAY.
It is also worthy to note that upon further cross examination,
respondent mentioned, for the first time, that when Apuyan laid down the
P2,000.00, he conveyed that said amount was for respondent to defray the
expenses on the garnishment of Peoples account to be effected the following
day (tsn, p. 22, 01 February 2002) .However, upon cross-examination, Court Process Server Bautista
Q: So it was you who opened the envelope?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
A: Noong initcha ni Mr. Apuyan ang envelope
sabi niya, Ito para sa inyo ni Sheriff, tapos tumalikod na si Mr. Apuyan
sabi ni Sheriff, Huwag ninyong gagalawin yan hindi natin alam kung ano
yan.Ngayon ang ginawa ko sa envelope
sinilip ko lang ang laman kung may laman ba o kung anuman yun nakita ko may
pera tapos nalingunan ako ni Sheriff Sta. Isabel sabi niya, Sinabi ng huwag
ninyong gagalawin yan eh! kaya nilapag ko na po yung envelope. (Underscoring supplied)cralawlibrary
tsn, p. 50, 06 February
Respondents conflicting versions, thus appear too contrived to
inspire belief.The tenor of his
allegation sought to establish that Apuyan was angered when respondent refused
to accept the offer of P2,000.00.We,
however, cannot believe that complainant would strongly react and make such an
outburst because of a mere refusal of respondent to accept the goodwill
money.Human nature dictates that a
person would not be easily infuriated unless provoked.Complainant may have been angered not by the
refusal of respondent to accept the envelope but by respondents own outburst
upon discovering that the envelope contained only P2,000.00 and his subsequent
act of throwing it back at him.At any
rate, what is clearly established is the fact that respondent flared up and
felt insulted when given the measly sum of P2,000.00 as monetary consideration
for the implementation of the writ of attachment on 08 February 2000.21 (Emphasis ours)
Respondents claim that complainant Apuyan suddenly made a
hostile outburst, accusing him of corruption for expecting more monetary
consideration only because he (respondent) refused to accept the goodwill money
P2,000.00, defies all logical explanation.Human experience tells us that if
respondents version of what transpired were correct, then the reaction of the
person making such monetary offer to a public official who refused the same
would be respect for the latter, instead of derision.We just could not summon ourselves to believe
that a sane person would be driven to anger and to making accusations of
corruption had there not been any provocation or actuation from respondent that
made complainants believe that he is demanding a bigger amount of money.
Respondents testimony that his relations with complainant Apuyan
had already been strained earlier when they were at defendant corporations office,
makes us wonder why respondent still agreed to proceed to complainants office,
allegedly for snacks, after having served the writ on defendant.It also puzzles us why respondent and his
companions did not just leave complainants office when they were just left by
complainants waiting in a garden and no snacks were ever served.In the first place, it is not proper for
court employees to go to the office of a litigant to have snacks, even if
Respondent testified that after complainant Apuyan presented the
envelope to him, some twenty minutes have elapsed before Process Server
Bautista peeked into the envelope and only sometime thereafter did complainant
Apuyan emerge from the office angrily asking him why he refused to take the
money.22 Such scenario immediately presents to us the nagging questions: why did
respondent and his co-employees continue to wait at said office, if indeed they
were only invited for a snack? Was respondent expecting something more than the
promised snacks from complainants?Why
would complainant Apuyan go back to respondent after several minutes asking him
angrily why he refused to take the money? All these remained unexplained by
respondent. His evidence failed to support his defense of denial.Evidently, respondent went to complainants
office expecting remuneration for the implementation of the writ of attachment
as he demanded from them.The fact that
respondent made demands upon complainants to pay him
subject of the writ of preliminary attachment, remained unrefuted.
In addition to the foregoing, respondent himself admitted his
propensity to be inaccurate with his statements.He testified, thus:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Mr. witness I just would like to inquire
from you whether your Comment that you submitted in this case which is now
marked as Exhibit N is the factual statements of all that had transpired
relative to the accusations filed against you by the Complainants?chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
Some were true facts, however, some
sort of my answer I was forming a defense so some may not be that accurate.23 (Emphasis supplied)cralawlibrary
Thus, the OCA did not commit any error in not giving credence to
his testimony. Respondents bare denials of complainants claim that he was
P50,000.00 for the implementation of the writ of attachment is
insufficient to overcome complainants straightforward, positive and unwavering
testimony against him.
Moreover, respondent subjected complainant Apuyan and Atty. Perez
to physical and verbal abuse in the courtroom premises.
Respondents denial in grabbing the collar of complainant Apuyan
and in the occurrence of the verbal altercation between him and Atty. Perez are
The evidence on record, especially the testimony of respondents
own officemate, Court Stenographer Vega, confirms the fact that indeed,
respondent collared complainant Apuyan while the latter was inside the court
staffroom on February 9, 2000.24 cralawred
The fact that respondent engaged in a heated verbal altercation
with Atty. Perez on February 14, 2000 is also established by complainants
testimonial evidence and the testimony of respondents own witness, Court
Process Server Bautista, who said that he had to caution respondent and Atty.
Perez against talking in a loud voice because the court was then in session.25 Such actuation, even assuming that complainant Apuyan and Atty. Perez did
something to anger respondent, is highly unbecoming of a public servant who is
called upon to demonstrate courtesy, civility and self-restraint in their
official actuations to the public at all times even when confronted with
rudeness and insulting behavior.26 We definitely
cannot tolerate respondents misconduct.We have consistently emphasized that:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Time and again, this Court has pointed out the heavy burden and
responsibility which court personnel are saddled with in view of their exalted
positions as keepers of the public faith.They should therefore be constantly reminded that any impression of
impropriety, misdeed or negligence in the performance of official functions
must be avoided.Those who work in the
judiciary must adhere to high ethical standards to preserve the courts good
name and standing. They should be examples of responsibility, competence and
efficiency, and they must discharge their duties with due care and utmost
diligence since they are officers of the court and agents of the law.Indeed, any conduct, act or omission on the
part of those who would violate the norm of public accountability and diminish
or even just tend to diminish the faith of the people in the judiciary shall
not be countenanced.27 cralawred
In Alvarez, Jr. v. Martin,
28 which is analogous to the present case, we laid out the conduct demanded from a
Respondent sheriff should have exerted every effort and indeed
considered it his bounden duty to see to it that the final stage in the
litigation process, i.e., the
execution of the judgment is carried out in order to ensure a speedy and
efficient administration of justice.. .
Furthermore, respondents act of demanding money and receiving
from the complainant for the lunch and merienda
of the policemen who will accompany him in executing the decision of the Court
is a clear violation of section 9, Rule 141. The Rules require the sheriff
to estimate his expenses in the execution of the decision. The prevailing party
will then deposit the said amount to the Clerk of Court who will disburse the
amount to the sheriff, subject to liquidation. Any unspent amount will have to
be returned to the prevailing party.In
this case, no estimate of sheriffs expenses was submitted to the court by
respondent.In fact, the money which
respondent deputy sheriff had demanded and received from complainant was not
among those prescribed and authorized by the Rules of Court. This Court has
ruled that any amount received by the sheriff in excess of the lawful fees
allowed by the Rules of Court is an unlawful exaction and renders him liable
for grave misconduct and gross dishonesty. (Emphasis supplied).
Finally, the procedure for execution of a final judgment is the
same as that in carrying out a writ of preliminary attachment, as set forth in
Rule 141 of the Rules of Court, the pertinent provisions of which are as
authorized to collect legal fees. Except as otherwise provided in this
rule, the officers and persons hereinafter mentioned, together with their
assistants and deputies, may demand, receive, and take the several fees
hereinafter mentioned and allowed for any business by them respectively done by
virtue of their several offices, and no more.All fees so collected shall be forthwith remitted to the Supreme
Court.The fees collected shall accrue
to the general fund.
Section 9.Sheriff, and
other persons serving processes. -
(l) For money collected by
him by order, execution, attachment, or any other processes, judicial or
extrajudicial, the following sums, to wit:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
1.On the first four thousand (
pesos, five (5%) per centum.
2.On all sums in excess of four thousand (
pesos, two and one-half (2.5%) per centum.
In addition to the fees hereinabove fixed, the party requesting
the process of any court, preliminary, incidental, or final, shall pay the
sheriffs expenses in serving or executing the process, or safeguarding the
property levied upon, attached or seized, including kilometrage, for each
kilometer of travel, guards fees, warehousing and similar charges, in an
amount estimated by the sheriff, subject to the approval of the court. Upon approval of said estimated expenses, the
interested party shall deposit such amount with the clerk of court and
ex-officio sheriff, who shall disburse the same to the deputy sheriff assigned
to effect the process, subject to liquidation within the same period for
rendering a return on the process.Any
unspent amount shall be refunded to the party making the deposit.A full report shall be submitted by the
deputy sheriff assigned with his return, and the sheriffs expenses shall be
taxed as costs against the judgment debtor.(Emphasis supplied)cralawlibrary
Clearly, in this case, respondent not only utterly failed to live
up to the high ethical standards required of a sheriff, but also, he totally
ignored Section 9, Rule 141 of the Rules of Court. Respondent failed to
demonstrate that he followed the procedure laid down by Rule 141.
The OCAs recommendation that respondent be found guilty of grave
misconduct, dishonesty and conduct grossly prejudicial to the best interest of
the service is firmly supported by the records of this case.
Section 23 (a),
Rule XIV of the Omnibus Rules
implementing Book V of Executive Order No. 292, provides:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Sec. 23. Administrative offenses with its corresponding penalties
are classified into grave, less grave, and light, depending on the gravity of
its nature and effects of said acts on the government service.
The following are grave offenses with its corresponding penalties:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
1st offense Dismissal
(c) Grave Misconduct
1st offense Dismissal
(t) Conduct grossly
prejudicial to the best interest of the service
1st offense Suspension for six (6) months and one day
to one (1) year.
2nd offense Dismissal
However, as correctly recommended by the OCA, we shall apply Section
53 of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service
which provides that in the determination of the penalties to be imposed, the
extenuating, mitigating, aggravating or alternative circumstances may be
considered.Per report of the OCA, this
is the first time that respondent has ever been charged administratively. Thus,
instead of imposing the penalty of dismissal which is the imposable penalty for
commission of the first offense of grave misconduct and dishonesty, respondent,
as appropriately recommended by the OCA, should be suspended for a period of
one year without pay with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or
similar acts in the future will be dealt with more severely.
is found GUILTY of Grave
Misconduct, Dishonesty and Conduct Grossly Prejudicial to the Best Interest of
the Service.He is SUSPENDED for a period of one (1) year
without pay with a STERN WARNING
that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future will be dealt with
Let copy of herein Resolution be attached to the personal records
of respondent in the Office of the Administrative Services, Office of the Court
Quisumbing, (Acting Chairman),
Callejo, Sr., and TINGA, JJ., concur.
J., on official leave.
3 Entitled, Doctors of New Millennium Holdings, Inc. v. Peoples
Trans-East Asia Insurance Corporation, et al.
4 Joint Affidavit-Complaint, Rollo, p. 3.
5 TSN of January 3, 2002, pp.
6 TSN of January 4, 2002, pp.
7 TSN of January 8, 2002, pp.
8 TSN of January 9, 2002, pp.
11 TSN of February
1, 2002, pp. 11-17, 21-23.
12 TSN of January
18, 2002, pp. 8, 34-55.
13 Executed with one Reynaldo de Leon, Rollo, pp.
14 TSN of February 6, 2002, p.
15 TSN of February 6, 2002, pp.
16 TSN of February 13, 2002,
17 TSN of March
11, 2002, pp. 34-36.
21 Memorandum submitted by DCA Christopher O.
Lock, Rollo, pp. 67-68.
22 TSN of January 18, 2002,
23 TSN of January 23, 2002,
24 TSN, March 11, 2002, pp.
25 TSN of Feb. 6, 2002, pp.
26 Policarpio v. Fortus 248 SCRA 272, 275 (1995).
28 A.M. No. P-03-1724, September 18, 2003.
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