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Prof. Joselito Guianan Chan's The Labor Code of the Philippines, Annotated Labor Standards & Social Legislation Volume I of a 3-Volume Series 2019 Edition (3rd Revised Edition)
 

 
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UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

 
PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE
 

   
November-2006 Jurisprudence                 

  • A.C. No. 6266 - ESTELA ANASTACIO-BRIONES vs ATTY. ALFREDO A. ZAPANTA

  • A.C. No. 7123 - MARIA DIVINA CRUZ-VILLANUEVA vs ATTY. CARLOS P. RIVERA, ET AL.

  • A.C. No. 7214 - AILEEN A. FERANCULLO vs ATTY. SANCHO M. FERANCULLO, JR.

  • A.C. No. 6266 - ESTELA ANASTACIO-BRIONES vs ATTY. ALFREDO A. ZAPANTA

  • A.C. No. 7123 - MARIA DIVINA CRUZ-VILLANUEVA vs ATTY. CARLOS P. RIVERA, ET AL.

  • A.C. No. 7214 - AILEEN A. FERANCULLO vs ATTY. SANCHO M. FERANCULLO, JR.

  • A.C. No. 6266 - ESTELA ANASTACIO-BRIONES vs ATTY. ALFREDO A. ZAPANTA

  • A.C. No. 7123 - MARIA DIVINA CRUZ-VILLANUEVA vs ATTY. CARLOS P. RIVERA, ET AL.

  • A.C. No. 7214 - AILEEN A. FERANCULLO vs ATTY. SANCHO M. FERANCULLO, JR.

  • Adm. Case No. 7252 - CBD 05-1434 - JOHNNY NG vs ATTY. BENJAMIN C. ALAR

  • A.C. No. 7280 - DAHLIA S. GACIAS vs ATTY. ALEXANDER BULAUITAN

  • A.M. No. 06-4-219-RTC - RE: REPORT ON THE JUDICIAL AUDIT AND PHYSICAL INVENTORY

  • A.M. No. 2004-15-SC - PROSECUTOR AGAPITO B. ROSALES vs ENGR. CELERINO BUENAVENTURA

  • A.M. No. 2005-26-SC - RE: LOST CHECKS ISSUED TO THE LATE RODERICK ROY P. MELLIZA, ETC.

  • A.M. No. MTJ-03-1503 - NATIONAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION vs JUDGE LUISITO T. ADAOAG

  • A.M. No. MTJ-06-1660 - Formerly A.M. No. OCA IPI 04-1519-MTJ - SPOUSES TREFIL AND LINA A. UMALE vs JUDGE NICOLAS V. FADUL, JR.

  • A.M. No. P-03-1731 - PNB MANAGEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION vs CARMELO CACHERO

  • A.M. No. P-03-1737 - Formerly OCA IPI No. 01-1250-P - NICOLAS PACLIBAR vs RENAN V. PAMPOSA

  • A.M. No. P-05-2092 - ATTY. PERFECTO A.S. LAGUIO, JR. vs MILA AMANTE-CASICAS

  • A.M. No. P-05-1979 - JUDGE LEONARDO P. CARREON vs ERIC ANTHONY S. ORTEGA

  • A.M. No. P-06-2109 - LIGAYA V. REYES vs MARIO PABLICO

  • A.M. No. P-06-2204 - NYDIA S. SERVINO vs MA. MAWILYNN CONCEPCION B. ADOLFO

  • A.M. No. P-06-2266 - ENCARNACION FLORES vs ROMEO S. GATCHECO, JR.

  • A.M. No. P-06-2257 - SPS. ARTHUR and LEONORA STILGROVE vs ERIBERTO R. SABAS, ET AL.

  • A.M. No. P-06-2268 - BIENVENIDO L. PUNZALAN vs RUMEL M. MACALISANG

  • A.M. No. RTJ-05-1901 - FORTUNE LIFE INSURANCE, COMPANY, INC. vs JUDGE JIMMY H. F. LUCZON, JR.

  • A.M. No. RTJ-06-2002 - ROCKLAND CONSTRUCTION CO., INC. vs JUDGE MARIANO M. SINGZON, JR.

  • G.R. No. 74269 & 92137 - SOLID HOMES, INC., ET AL. vs HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 127636 - E. ROMMEL REALTY AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, ET AL. vs STA. LUCIA REALTY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

  • G.R. No. 126890 - UNITED PLANTERS SUGAR MILLING COMPANY, INC. vs COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 129820 - PNOC-ENERGY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION vs EMILIANO G. VENERACION, JR.

  • G.R. No. 132834 - RUPERTO LUCERO, JR., ET AL. vs CITY GOVERNMENT OF PASIG

  • G.R. No. 135817 - REYNALDO RODRIGUEZ, ET AL. vs CONCORDIA ONG LIM, ET AL.

  • G.R. NOS. 140371-72 - DY YIENG SEANGIO, ET AL. vs AMOR A. REYES, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 140833 - LACEPI T. MAGNANAO vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 141480 - CARLOS B. DE GUZMAN vs TOYOTA CUBAO, INC.

  • G.R. No. 142351 - ST. MARTIN FUNERAL HOMES vs NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 143219 - ASIAN TERMINALS, INC. vs RENATO P. VILLANUEVA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 143382 - SECURITY BANK and TRUST COMPANY vs MAR TIERRA CORPORATION, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 144062 - THE BASES CONVERSION AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, ET AL. vs ELPIDIO UY

  • G.R. No. 146707 - ERNESTO DUMLAO, JR., ET AL. vs RODOLFO PONFERRADA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 148090 - STRONGHOLD INSURANCE COMPANY, INC. vs NEMESIO S. FELIX, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 148490 - 7K CORPORATION vs NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, ET AL.

  • G.R. NOS. 148500-01 - TIMES TRANSPORTATION CO. INC. vs NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, ET AL.

  • G.R. NOS. 148839-40 - NAGKAHIUSANG MAMUMUO SA PICOP RESOURCES, INC. - SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES FEDERATION OF LABOR (NAMAPRI - SPFL), ET AL. vs COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 148971 - ALBERTO GARONG vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 149633 - EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR GABRIEL S. CASAL, ET AL. v. COMMISSION ON AUDIT

  • G.R. No. 149748 - JANG LIM, ET AL vs COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 149753 - Miguel Cosme, Jr. v. People of the Philippines

  • G.R. NO. 149764 - PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS TELECOMMUNICATIONS CORPORATION vs ENRIQUE GUTIERREZ, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 150253 - DAVAO LIGHT AND POWER CORPORATION, INC. vs ANTONIO G. DIAZ, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 150402 - EPARWA SECURITY AND JANITORIAL SERVICES, INC. vs LICEO DE CAGAYAN UNIVERSITY

  • G.R. No. 152258 - ROGELIO P. ANTALAN vs ANIANO DESIERTO

  • G.R. No. 152984 - WILLIAM G. KWONG vs ATTY. RAMON GARGANTOS, ET AL.

  • G.R. NO. 154006 - STAR PAPER CORPORATION vs CARLITO ESPIRI TU, ET AL.

  • G.R. NO. 154565 - REMEDIOS RAMOS vs TESSIE PABAS

  • G.R. No. 154685 - METROPOLITAN BANK and TRUST COMPANY, ET AL. vs COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 155645 - PHILIPPINE LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE COMPANY, INC. vs MAYFLOR T. YLAGAN

  • G.R. No. 155574 - TIMOTEO A. GARCIA vs SANDIGANBAYAN

  • G.R. No. 156294 - MELVA THERESA ALVIAR GONZALES vs RIZAL COMMERCIAL BANKING CORPORATION

  • G. R. No. 156888 - PEDRO R. SANTIAGO vs SUBIC BAY METROPOLITAN AUTHORITY

  • G.R. No. 156903 - SPOUSES CARLOS and TERESITA RUSTIA vs EMERITA RIVERA

  • G.R. No. 157107 - ALPINE LENDING INVESTORS, ET AL. vs ESTRELLA CORPUZ

  • G.R. No. 157117 - COASTAL SUBIC BAY TERMINAL, INC. vs DEPARTMENT OF LABOR and EMPLOYMENT, ET AL.

  • G.R. NOS. 157236-45 - ROMEO D. LONZANIDA vs SANDIGANBAYAN

  • G.R. No. 157906 - JOAQUINITA P. CAPILI vs SPS. DOMINADOR CARDAÑA and ROSALITA CARDAÑA,

  • G.R. No. 158676 - BPI-FAMILY SAVINGS BANK, INC. vs SPS. ZENAIDA DOMINGO & ABUNDIO S. DOMINGO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 158707 - COMMUNITY RURAL BANK OF SAN ISIDRO (N.E.), INC. vs YSAGANI V. PAEZ

  • G.R. NOS. 157294-95 - JOSEPH VICTOR G. EJERCITO vs SANDIGANBAYAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 158960 - LORNA FRANCES FILIPINO vs F. WALTER R. MACABUHAY

  • G.R. No. 159373 - JOSE R. MORENO, JR. vs PRIVATE MANAGEMENT OFFICE

  • G.R. No. 159991 - CARMELINO F. PANSACOLA vs COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE

  • G.R. No. 159734 and G.R. NO. 159745 - ROSARIO V. ASTUDILLO vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 160347 - ARCADIO and MARIA LUISA CARANDANG vs HEIRS OF QUIRINO A. DE GUZMAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 160618 - DENNIS D. SY vs METROPOLITAN BANK & TRUST COMPANY

  • G.R. No. 160805 - SPOUSES ADIEL DE LA CENA and CARIDAD AREVALO DE LA CENA vs SPOUSES JOSE BRIONES and HERMINIA LLEDO BRIONES

  • G.R. No. 161086 - CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION vs COURT OF APPEALS

  • G.R. No. 161136 - WILFREDO VAGILIDAD, ET AL. vs GABINO VAGILIDAD, JR., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 161115 - DOLE PHILIPPINES, INC. vs MEDEL ESTEVA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 162037 - Heirs of Enrique Diaz v. Elinor A. Virata

  • G.R. No. 162243, G.R. No. 164516 & G.R. No. 171875 - HEHERSON ALVAREZ vs PICOP RESOURCES, INC.

  • G.R. No. 162308 - G & M PHILIPPINES, INC. vs ROMIL V. CUAMBOT

  • G.R. No. 162331 - LEPANTO CONSOLIDATED MINING CO. vs WMC RESOURCES INT L. PTY. LTD., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 162366 - FEDERICA M. SERRANO, ET AL. vs SPOUSES ANSELMO GUTIERREZ AND CARMELITA GUTIERREZ

  • G.R. No. 163735 - GREEN ASIA CONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, ET AL. vs COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 163712 - METROPOLITAN BANK AND TRUST COMPANY, ET AL. vs JOSE B. TAN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 163763 - MALAYAN REALTY, INC. vs UY HAN YONG

  • G.R. No. 164300 - SPOUSES BENJAMIN AND AGRIFINA SIM vs M.B. FINANCE CORPORATION

  • G.R. No. 164321 - SKECHERS, U.S.A., INC. vs INTER PACIFIC INDUSTRIAL TRADING CORP., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 164545 - LORBE REBUCAN y BALTAZAR vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 165038 - HEIRS OF EMILIO R. DOMINGO AND FELICIDAD CORNEJO, ET AL. vs THE HEIRS OF CLARITA D. MARTIN, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 164858 - HENRY P. LANOT vs COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS

  • G.R. No. 165724 - ZAMORA REALTY and DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, ET AL. vs OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 165879 - MARIA B. CHING vs JOSEPH C. GOYANKO, JR., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 166403 - BENZON O. ALDEMITA vs HEIRS OF MELQUIADES SILVA

  • G.R. NOS. 166143-47 and G.R. NO. 166891 - ABDUSAKUR M. TAN, ET AL. vs COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 166496 - JOSEFA BAUTISTA FERRER vs SPS. MANUEL M. FERRER, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 166501 - ERNESTO B. FRANCISCO, JR. vs HON. BAYANI F. FERNANDO

  • G.R. No. 166649 - ROBERT B. CABUYOC vs INTER-ORIENT NAVIGATION SHIPMANAGEMENT, INC., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 166833 - FELIXBERTO CUBERO, ET AL. vs LAGUNA WEST MULTI-PURPOSE COOPERATIVE, INC., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 166837 - LIGAYA S. ORBETA vs RUBEN P. ORBETA, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 167680 - SAMUEL PARILLA, ET AL. vs DR. PROSPERO PILAR

  • G.R. No. 167723 - CLUB FILIPINO, INC. vs ROMEO ARAULLO

  • G.R. No. 167743 - HILARIO P. SORIANO vs OMBUDSMAN SIMEON V. MARCELO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 167844 - OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN vs COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 168035 - MELANIE M. MESINA, ET AL. vs GLORIA C. GARCIA

  • G.R. No. 168718 - OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN vs FARIDA T. LUCERO, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 168694 - THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs SAIDAMIN MACABALANG y MALAMAMA

  • G.R. No. 169193 - SPOUSES ILUMINADA CAPITLE and CIRILO CAPITLE vs FORTUNATA ELBAMBUENA, ET AL.

  • G.R. NOS. 169295-96 - REMINGTON INDUSTRIAL SALES CORPORATION vs ERLINDA CASTANEDA

  • G.R. No. 169341 - City of Cebu v. Vicente B. Del Rosario

  • G.R. No. 169578 - TERESITA DIO vs ST. FERDINAND MEMORIAL PARK, INC., ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 169698 - LUPO ATIENZA vs YOLANDA DE CASTRO

  • G.R. No. 169891 - PHILIPPINE NATIONAL RAILWAYS vs ETHEL BRUNTY, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 170220 - JOSEFINA S. LUBRICA, ET AL. vs LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 170522 - CELSO LOPEZ OCATE vs COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, ET AL.

  • G.R. No. 170829 - Perla G. Patricio v. Marcelino G. Dario III, et al.

  • G.R. No. 171102 - ATP TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL, INC. vs MICRON PRECISION PHILS., INC.

  • G.R. No. 170840 - THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs GREGORIO CARPIO @ "GORIO"

  • G.R. No. 171144 - SANTOS L. NACAYTUNA vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. NOS. 171322-24 - MARIANITO S. VICTORIANO vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G.R. No. 172274 - ROMEO D. CABARLO vs PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES

  • G. R. No. 171447 - PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs FEDERICO ARNAIZ y ARMONIO

  • G.R. No. 173290 - ZENAIDA M. LIMBONA vs JUDGE RALPH S. LEE, ET AL.

  •  





     
     

    A.M. No. P-05-1979 - JUDGE LEONARDO P. CARREON  vs  ERIC ANTHONY S. ORTEGA

      A.M. No. P-05-1979 - JUDGE LEONARDO P. CARREON vs ERIC ANTHONY S. ORTEGA

    PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

    THIRD DIVISION

    [A.M. NO. P-05-1979 : November 27, 2006]

    JUDGE LEONARDO P. CARREON, Complainant, v. ERIC ANTHONY S. ORTEGA, Process Server, Municipal Trial Court, Argao, Cebu, Respondent.

    D E C I S I O N

    CARPIO, J.:

    The Facts

    In a letter-complaint1 dated 9 January 2004, Judge Leonardo P. Carreon ("Judge Carreon") of the Municipal Trial Court of Argao, Cebu ("trial court") charged Eric Anthony S. Ortega ("respondent"), trial court process server, with gross misconduct and for absence without official leave.

    According to Judge Carreon, he issued subpoenas for the prosecution witnesses in Criminal Case Nos. R-6283,2 R-6030,3 and R-6256.4 The trial court logbook5 ("logbook") showed that respondent received the subpoenas on 27 October 2003. However, respondent failed to serve any of the subpoenas such that the pre-trial conference for Criminal Case No. R-6283 could not proceed on 19 November 2003 because of the absence of the prosecution witnesses. For the same reason, the trial court reset the initial presentation of evidence for the prosecution in Criminal Case Nos. R-6030 and R-6256, scheduled on 19 November 2003 and 21 November 2003, respectively. In the two latter cases, the witnesses to be subpoenaed were police officers of the Argao Police Station, located a "few steps away from [the trial court]."6

    After being asked to explain in writing why no administrative case should be filed against him, respondent did not report to work. Judge Carreon alleged that except for a few days in October and November 2003, respondent had been continuously absent and had not submitted his Daily Time Records (DTRs) up to the time of the filing of the complaint.

    Judge Carreon further narrated that only two months before the filing of this complaint, respondent also failed to serve and make a return on a subpoena to the accused in Criminal Case No. R-6039.7 When ordered by Judge Carreon to explain in writing, respondent claimed that he had misplaced the subpoena after failing to find the accused at the given address. At this point, respondent was very apologetic, asking for the trial court's consideration and promising to reform himself.

    Judge Carreon claimed that he had lost count of the number of times he had verbally reprimanded respondent for his neglect. For every incident, respondent would make an apology but "return to his old ways in just a matter of days." During the period January to June 2003, respondent received an "unsatisfactory" rating in his performance.

    In its 1st Indorsement dated 20 February 2004, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) required respondent to file his Comment within 10 days from notice. As of 15 June 2004, respondent had not filed any comment. The OCA sent respondent another Indorsement dated 28 September 2004.

    Respondent submitted his brief Comment on 13 October 2004, the full body of which we quote below:

    I was really filing for my leave of absence for the period October 2003 until January 2004, but then it was disapproved by the Hon. Judge [Carreon] without any legal basis;

    I admittedly failed to serve the subpoena/notices and other processes of the court due to my hypertension but then Memorandums pertinent to those were already answered;

    I have already extended my sincerest apologies on the matter and I also promised to reform and to do my duties to the best that I can but because of the lack of transportation, there were times that subpoenas could not be served on time;

    On November 19, 2003, all the subpoenas were personally received and were served by me but the returns were not attached by the clerk so the proceedings were delayed;

    Subpoena for November 21, 2003 to Adonis Sayson [in Criminal Case No. R-6256] was served to Police Officer Abapo but prior to the date of the prosecution, the said officer had been transferred to another station so the police-witness no longer appeared.8

    The records show that on learning of the filing of this complaint, respondent applied for early retirement, having been in the service for more than 18 years.9 This Court approved respondent's application effective 16 March 2004, per Resolution dated 1 December 2004 of the Third Division.

    On 3 January 2005, respondent sent a letter to then Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. requesting for an early resolution of this administrative case to expedite the processing of his retirement. Respondent stated that he was "amenable to the withholding of P5,000 from his retirement benefits to answer for the case against [him] x x x."10

    Upon the recommendation of the OCA through Memorandum11 dated 16 February 2005, this Court resolved to (1) redocket the case as a regular administrative matter and (2) refer the matter to Executive Judge Maximo A. Perez ("Investigating Judge") of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Argao, Cebu for investigation, report and recommendation.12

    Findings of the Investigating Judge

    After conducting three hearings on the case, the Investigating Judge submitted his Investigation Report13 ("Report") to the OCA. The Report partly reads:

    x x x

    [Judge Carreon] was able to establish the following facts: (1) That the respondent is the Process Server of the MTC-Argao, Cebu; (2) That the respondent received the subpoena for the witnesses in Criminal Case Nos. R-6283, R-6030, R-6256, R-6039; (3) That the respondent failed to serve the subpoenas in the aforementioned cases; (4) That the respondent failed to submit returns of service of subpoenas; (5) That the proceedings in said cases were postponed for failure of the witnesses to receive [the] subpoena, much less, to appear; (6) That [Judge Carreon] directed the respondent to explain why no administrative case should be filed against him; and (7) That the respondent did not explain but instead went on an unofficial leave instead.

    The respondent miserably failed to controvert the charge filed against him. The respondent's explanation that he has indeed served some subpoenas is negated by the absence of the proof of return of service as well as by the fact that the Court cancelled the hearing[s], for failure of the witnesses to appear. Neither did the respondent present any corroborating evidence nor did he present documentary proof to substantiate his claim about accrued leave credits and about his x x x hypertension. If at all the respondent was indeed suffering from hypertension, he could have secured a medical certificate and he could [have] filed an official leave of absence, in order for the Court to find other ways and means to effect service of subpoena and other court processes.

    x x x x14

    The Investigating Judge recommended that the Court find respondent guilty of simple neglect of duty and fine him an amount equivalent to his salary for one month and one day, since he retired already on 16 March 2004.

    Findings of the Court Administrator

    In a Memorandum dated 1 February 2006 addressed to Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, the OCA expressed its agreement with the factual findings and recommendations of the Investigating Judge. The OCA stated that as a process server, respondent was "duty-bound to serve summons, writs and other court processes promptly." The OCA justified the finding of administrative liability against respondent as follows:

    x x x Any delay or unjustified failure in performing [one's tasks] constitutes neglect of duty which warrants the imposition of administrative sanctions.

    Respondent should be fully cognizant not only of the nature and responsibilities of his task, but also of their impact in the speedy administration of justice. It is through the process server that defendant gets informed of the action brought against him by the complainant. It is also through the service of summons by the process server that the court acquires jurisdiction over the defendants. It is, therefore, very important that summons, writs, and other court processes be served expeditiously, consonant with the mandate of speedy dispensation of justice enshrined in the [C]onstitution. Applying to the matter at hand is the salutary reminder that the image of the court of justice is mirrored in the conduct, official or otherwise, of the employees who work thereat x x x. Hence, it becomes the imperative duty of everyone in the court to maintain its good image as a true temple of justice.

    x x x x15

    The Court's Ruling

    We sustain the findings of the Investigating Judge and the OCA.

    The duties of a process server consist of the following:

    1. Service of court processes such as subpoena, subpoena duces tecum, summons, court order and notices;

    2. Preparation and submission of returns of service of court processes;

    3. Monitoring of messages or delivery of court mail matters received and dispatched; and

    4. Such other duties as may be assigned to him.16

    The finding of simple neglect of duty is supported by the evidence on record showing that respondent failed to serve subpoenas in four criminal cases, resulting in the non-appearance of the witnesses at proceedings requiring their presence. This forced the trial court to reset the proceedings, to the prejudice of the parties who, by constitutional mandate, have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases.

    In his Comment, respondent alleges that he served the subject subpoenas for the 19 November 2003 hearings, but that the returns of service which he submitted afterwards to the trial court clerk were not attached by the clerk to the case records. At the investigation hearing, respondent clarified that he was "merely told to leave the return of service at the top of the table of the clerk."17 However, respondent could not show any documentary proof, not even a copy of the logbook entry which he claims to have made upon the submission of the returns to the clerk. On the subpoenas for the 21 November 2003 hearing, respondent merely stated that he tried to serve a copy to Police Officer Abapo ("Abapo") at the local police station, but found out that Abapo had been reassigned to another station. Respondent failed to mention that there were three witnesses to be subpoenaed for 21 November 2003, Abapo being only one of them. On the rest of the witnesses, respondent did not give any explanation.

    We find that respondent did not serve any of the subpoenas. In fact, we need not confine ourselves to these specific circumstances as respondent himself admitted in his Comment that many times in the past, he failed to serve subpoenas, notices, and other court processes. Respondent attributes his lapses to his hypertension and to lack of transportation. None of these excuses is tenable.

    As the OCA correctly observed, respondent did not present a medical certificate attesting that he suffered from hypertension or any other ailment of such nature as would prevent him from performing his duties properly. Even if we assume that his health condition was very poor and required his absence from work, respondent did not apprise the trial court of the problem. The trial court could have acted to ensure the service of its processes, such as by deputizing other court personnel to serve the subpoenas. There is also no justification for respondent's failure to serve the subpoenas based on lack of transportation, considering that their addresses were within his jurisdiction as process server.

    Respondent had earlier misplaced a subpoena in another criminal case, after which he sought Judge Carreon's consideration. With that prior incident, respondent should not have repeated the error and should have more conscientiously performed his duties. As the present complaint demonstrates, however, respondent continued to neglect his tasks. It apparently did not matter to respondent that Judge Carreon had already repeatedly reprimanded him, or that he incurred an "unsatisfactory" rating in his performance. His conduct indeed reflects a disregard of duty resulting from carelessness or indifference, constituting neglect of duty.18

    On the other hand, we find unsubstantiated the charge against respondent of absence without official leave.ςηαñrοblεš νιr υαl lαω lιbrαrÿ

    Dedication, efficiency and responsibility are expected of process servers, given the nature of their duties and the need for the prompt accomplishment thereof to keep the wheels of justice running. Any neglect of duty gravely affects the trial court's conduct of business with litigants and causes inefficiency in the public service.

    Under The Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, simple neglect of duty is a less grave offense punishable by suspension of one month and one day to six months for the first offense.19 Considering that respondent already retired from the service on 16 March 2004, his penalty shall be, in lieu of suspension, a fine equivalent to his salary for one month and one day.20

    WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Eric Anthony S. Ortega, Process Server, Municipal Trial Court of Argao, Cebu, GUILTY of simple neglect of duty. We impose on him a FINE equivalent to his salary for one month and one day, to be deducted from his leave or retirement benefits.

    SO ORDERED.

    Endnotes:


    1 Rollo, pp. 1-3.

    2 Entitled "People of the Philippines v. Ricky Paguntalay Hernaez."

    3 Entitled "People of the Philippines v. Rosenda Espina Romeo."

    4 Entitled "People of the Philippines v. Adonis Sayson."

    5 Rollo, p. 12.

    6 Id. at 2.

    7 Entitled "People of the Philippines v. Roberto Gerodias y Remolino."

    8 Rollo, p. 22.

    9 Id. at 13. Letter from respondent to Judge Carreon dated 21 January 2003.

    10 Id. at 24.

    11 Id. at 27-29.

    12 Id. at 30.

    13 Id. at 38-41.

    14 Id. at 41.

    15 OCA Report, pp. 3-4.

    16 The Revised Manual for Clerks of Court, Vol. I, p. 203.

    17 Rollo, p. 52. TSN, 15 June 2005.

    18 Re: Report of Mr. Itliong, A.M. No. 03-11-29-SC, 8 June 2005, 459 SCRA 289, citing Villanueva-Fabella v. Lee, A.M. No. MTJ-04-1518, 15 January 2004, 419 SCRA 440.

    19 Section 52(B)(1), Rule IV of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service.

    20 Following the ruling in Casimiro v. Fernandez, A.M. No. MTJ-04-1525, 18 March 2005, 453 SCRA 591; Re: Complaint by Atty. Rubio on the Alleged Falsification of Public Documents, A.M. No. 2004-17-SC, 27 September 2004, 439 SCRA 118.

    A.M. No. P-05-1979 - JUDGE LEONARDO P. CARREON  vs  ERIC ANTHONY S. ORTEGA


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