[A.M. No. 2010-11-SC, March 15 : 2011]
RE: EMPLOYEES INCURRING HABITUAL TARDINESS IN THE SECOND SEMESTER OF 2009
D E C I S I O N
Employees of the Judiciary should observe punctuality in reporting to work. Tardiness, if habitual, prejudices the efficiency of the service being rendered by the Judiciary to the people, and cannot be tolerated. Thus, we sanction certain administrative employees of the Court for their habitual tardiness.
This administrative matter emanated from the reports dated June 16, 2010 and June 17, 2010 made by the Leave Division under the Office of Administrative Services (OAS) to the Complaints and Investigation Division, also under the OAS, to the effect that the following employees had been habitually tardy in the second semester of 2009, viz
| || |
No. of times Reported Tardy for the 2nd
Semester of 2009
- Mr. Marc Reman A. Bessat
Computer Maintenance Technologist III
Systems Planning & Project Evaluation Division, MISO
|10 || || ||10 || || |
- Mr. Melquiades A. Briones
Office of the Clerk of Court, En Banc
|14 ||15 || || || || |
- Mr. Benjie B. Cajandig
Judicial Staff Assistant II
Mediation Planning & Research Division PHILJA
|12 || ||10 ||12 || || |
- Ms. Sherrylyn A. Nate-Cruz
Fiscal Clerk II
Finance Division, FMBO
|10 || || ||10 || || |
- Mr. Florentino A. Pascual
Human Resource Management Officer II
Personnel Division, OAS-OCA
| || ||10 ||11 || || |
- Mr. Albert C. Semilla
Computer Operator III
Records Division Office of the Chief Attorney
| || ||12 || ||10 || |
- Ms. Jolina Pauline T. Tuazon
Executive Assistant II
Publication Division, PIO
| || ||11 ||11 || || |
- Mary Jingle M. Villocero
Court Stenographer III
Judicial Supervision & Monitoring Division, CMO-OCA
|11 || || ||10 || || |
On July 5, 2010, the OAS directed the concerned employees to explain in writing why no administrative disciplinary action should be taken against them for their habitual tardiness during the covered period, which habitual tardiness was in violation of Civil Service Commission (CSC) Memorandum Circular No. 04, Series of 1991, viz
An employee shall be considered habitually tardy if he incurs tardiness, regardless of the number of minutes, ten (10) times a month for at least two (2) months in a semester or at least two (2) consecutive months during the year. xxx
The concerned employees subsequently rendered their respective explanations, which the OAS summarized thuswise:
A. Employees previously penalized for habitual tardiness:
- Mr. ALBERT C. SEMILLA - He was tardy for twelve (12) times in the month of September and ten (10) times in the month of November. In his explanation dated July 9, 2010, Mr. Semilla readily admitted having incurred those tardiness and humbly submitted to any disciplinary action for the offense. He stated that due to financial difficulties, he reports to work and likewise returns home through his bicycle. He supports his family as a solo parent and even enrolled in a short course for Medical Transcriptionists in an attempt to improve their plight. He added that in the summer of 2009, his blood pressure started to rise abnormally. It was the cause why he was rushed to the hospital twice. Since May 2009, he was under the care of the SC Clinic for Benign Prostatic Hyperthropy, which ailment caused him many sleepless nights.
As shown by the records, this is Mr. Semilla's fourth incursion of habitual tardiness. He was REPRIMANDED for his first incursion of the offense pursuant to the Court En Banc resolution dated August 8, 2000 in A.M. No. 00-6-09-SC, Re: Imposition of Corresponding Penalties to Employees Committing Habitual Tardiness; SUSPENDED for five (5) days for committing habitual tardiness for the second time pursuant to A.M. No. 00-6-09-SC dated November 27, 2002, Re: Imposition of Corresponding Penalties for Habitual Tardiness committed during the Second Semester of 2000; and SUSPENDED for ten (10) days for committing the same offense for the third time pursuant to A.M. No. 00-06-09-SC dated March 16, 2004, Re: Imposition of Corresponding Penalties for Habitual Tardiness committed during the 1st and 2nd Semester of 2003.
His service records show that Mr. Semilla entered the government service in the Supreme Court as Messenger on November 7, 1979. He was promoted as Clerk on July 1, 1983, Clerk III on July 1, 1989, and Computer Operator III on October 17, 2006, the position he is holding at present. His performance ratings for the 1st and 2nd semesters of the year 2009 show that he performed his work very satisfactorily. Since 2003, this is the only time again that he has incurred tardiness.
- Mr. FLORENTINO A. PASCUAL - He was tardy for ten (10) times in the month of September and eleven (11) times in the month of October. In his letter dated July 7, 2010, he explained that his tardiness was caused by his unstable blood pressure and the traffic situation. He manifested that to the best of his ability, he will try to be punctual despite his present health condition caused by a mild stroke.
As shown by the records, this is Mr. Pascual's second incursion of habitual tardiness. He was REPRIMANDED for his first incursion of the offense pursuant to the Court En Banc Resolution dated March 16, 2004 in A.M. No. 00-06-09-SC, Re: Habitual Tardiness for the 1st and 2nd Semester of 2003.
B. Employees incurring habitual tardiness for the first time:
- Mr. MARC REMAN A. BESSAT - He was tardy for ten (10) times each for the months of July and October. In his explanation dated July 9, 2010, he stated that during the said period, he experienced abdominal cramping, bloating, gassiness and painful bowel habits, especially on mornings. He claimed that he consulted a Gastroenterologist on March 2010 and was diagnosed with Internal Hemorrhoids. He promised to do everything to improve his time of arrival.
- Mr. MELQUIADES A. BRIONES - He was tardy for fourteen (14) times in the month of July and fifteen (15) times in the month of August. In his letter dated July 6, 2010, Mr. Briones explained that during those times, he was the only one who could manage to accompany his son in going to school and was always caught in traffic. His wife could not replace him in accompanying their son to school because she has fatal diabetes and could hardly move and travel far. He added that during the said period, he was also having his medication concerning his allergies in both hands and feet.
- Mr. BENJIE B. CAJANDIG - He was tardy for twelve (12) times each in the months of July and October, and ten (10) times in the month of October. In his letter dated July 7, 2010, Mr. Cajandig explained that his tardiness was mostly due to the distance of his residence from the office and due to heavy traffic which he encounters when traveling from Marcos Highway to the LRT 2 Santolan Station. He averred that this was aggravated during the rainy season since most of his tardiness were incurred during those months. He manifested that he will do his best to address his tardiness.
- Ms. SHERRYLYN A. NATE-CRUZ - She was tardy for ten (10) times each in the months of July and October. In her letter dated July 6, 2010, Ms. Cruz explained that due to the alarming increase in her blood sugar during those days, she was required to have a regular medical checkup that resulted to her tardiness in reporting for work. She added that at present, she is six (6) months pregnant on her second child and has pre-gestational diabetes. But she said she will try her best not to be late for work.
- Ms. JOLINA PAULINE T. TUAZON - She was tardy for eleven (11) times each in the months of September and October. In her letter dated July 8, 2010, she explained that during the said period, she was preparing for an entrance examination scheduled for November aside from the reviews she had in the evening. Thus during the months of September and October, she had been going home late which at times caused her to be late for work the next day. She expressed regret in committing the offense and promised to avoid the same violation.
- Ms. MARY JINGLE M. VILLOCERO - She was tardy for eleven (11) times in the month of July and ten (10) times in the month of October. In her explanation dated July 8, 2010, Ms. Villocero stated that her tardiness was caused by the fact that she has three (3) children and without any maid to assist her in taking care of them. Her husband is under medication with anti-depressant, thus, she sometimes cannot compel him to take care of everything and attend to all her children's needs. She averred that she is also a working student with classes during Saturdays and Sundays, and has been working hard for the advancement of her career. She added that she has been trying her best to meet her duties and obligations, both as a responsible employee of the judiciary and as a mother, but in the process, she still incurred tardiness. She vowed not to violate again the rules on tardiness.
The OAS concluded that the concerned employees had incurred habitual tardiness and that their justifications were unacceptable. Thus, it recommended the penalties to be imposed on the concerned employees,
- Mr. Albert Semilla, for having been found habitually tardy for the fourth time, be meted the penalty of SUSPENSION for three (3) months without pay with a FINAL WARNING that a repetition of the same offense will be dealt with more severely;
- Mr. Florentino A. Pascual, for having been found habitually tardy for the second time, be meted the penalty of SUSPENSION for five (5) days with a WARNING that a repetition of the same shall be dealt with more severely;
- Messrs. Marc Remman A. Bessat, Melquiades A. Briones, Benjie B. Cajandig, Mmes. Sherrylyn A. Nate-Cruz, Jolina Pauline T. Tuazon, and Mary Jingle M. Villocero, for having been found habitually tardy for the first time, be meted the penalty of REPRIMAND with the same warning that a repetition of the same shall be dealt with more severely.
We adopt the evaluation of the OAS.
It is a canon under the Constitution that a public office is a public trust.
This canon includes the mandate for the observance of prescribed office hours and the efficient use of every moment of such hours for the public service, because only thereby may the public servants recompense the Government and the people for shouldering the costs of maintaining the Judiciary.
Accordingly, court officials and employees must at all times strictly observe official hours to inspire the public's respect for the justice system.
The exacting standards of ethics and morality imposed upon court officials and employees reflect the premium placed on the image of the courts of justice. That image is necessarily mirrored in the conduct, official or otherwise, of the men and women who work in the Judiciary. It thus becomes the imperative duty of everyone involved in the dispensation of justice, from the judge to the lowliest clerk, to maintain the courts' good name and standing as true temples of justice.
There is no question that all the concerned employees incurred habitual tardiness within the context of CSC Memorandum Circular No. 04, Series of 1991, supra
. Thereby, they fell short of the standard of conduct demanded from everyone connected with the administration of justice. Worthy of stress is that the nature and functions of the employment of the officials and employees of the Judiciary require them to be role models in the faithful observance of the constitutional canon that public office is a public trust. They are always accountable to the people, whom they must serve with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency. They can surely inspire public respect for the justice system by strictly observing official time, among others. Absenteeism and tardiness are, therefore, impermissible.
The respective justifications of the concerned employees (consisting of illness or poor health, travel difficulties, household responsibilities, and similar causes) are not unacceptable. Already in Re: Supreme Court Employees Incurring Habitual Tardiness in the 2nd Semester of 2005,
we enunciated that justifications for absences and tardiness falling under the categories of illness, moral obligation to family and relatives, performance of household chores, traffic and health or physical condition are neither novel nor persuasive, and hardly evoke sympathy. If at all, such justifications may only mitigate liability.
We next discuss the penalties.
CSC Memorandum Circular No. 19, Series of 1999, considers habitual tardiness as a light offense with the following penalties:
First Offense Reprimand
Second Offense Suspension
Third Offense Dismissal
The penalties recommended by the OAS are well taken. However, in the case of Albert C. Semilla, we moderate the recommended penalty of suspension for three months without pay to one month suspension without pay but with a final
warning that a repetition will be dealt with more severely upon humanitarian considerations. Although we insist that every official or employee of the Judiciary must meet the standards of public service, we must practice compassion in deserving cases to avoid the wrong and unwanted impression that the Court wields only mailed fists. Semilla deserves a degree of mitigation. In that regard, Section 53 of Rule IV of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service
grants the disciplining authority the discretion to consider mitigating circumstances in the imposition of the proper penalty. Thus, the mitigating factors in Semilla's favor are the following:
(a) His length of service and satisfactory performance (i.e., having started as messenger of the Court on November 7, 1979 and having served continuously until the present, with his performance in the first and second semesters of 2009, the year in question, being satisfactory);
(b) The fact that this infraction of habitual tardiness was his first since 2003; and
(c) His pleas for compassion (due to his medical condition of benign prostatic hyperthropy, for which he was under the care of the SC Clinic since May 2009, and due to his reporting to work and returning home through his bicycle to add to his financial capacity as a solo parent of his family).
Even so, we hereby emphatically hold all the concerned employees to their respective promises that they will not commit the same infraction hereafter, or else they will be at the end of the mailed fists of the Court. Our compassion, which is not limitless but discriminating, should not be taken for granted.WHEREFORE
, we find and pronounce:
Corona, C.J., Carpio, Carpio Morales, Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-De Castro, Peralta, Del Castillo, Abad, Villarama, Jr., Perez, Mendoza, and Sereno, JJ., concur.
- Albert Semilla guilty of habitual tardiness for the fourth time and suspended for one (1) month without pay, with a final warning that a repetition of the same offense will be dealt with more severely;
- Florentino A. Pascual guilty of habitual tardiness for the second time and suspended for five (5) days without pay, with a warning that a repetition of the same offense will be dealt with more severely; and
- Marc Remman A. Bessat, Melquiades A. Briones, Benjie B. Cajandig, Sherrylyn A. Nate-Cruz, Jolina Pauline T. Tuazon, and Mary Jingle M. Villocero guilty of habitual tardiness for the first time and reprimanded, with warning that a repetition of the same offense will be dealt with more severely.
Nachura and Brion, JJ., on leave.
 Rollo, left flap, pp. 2-5.
 OAS Memorandum dated August 9, 2010.
 Section 1, Article XI, Constitution.
 Re: Employees Incurring Habitual Tardiness in the First Semester of 2005, A.M. No. 2005-25-SC, July 6, 2006, 494 SCRA 422, 429, citing Administrative Circular No. 2-99 (Strict Observance of Working Hours and Disciplinary Action for Absenteeism and Tardiness).
 Id., pp. 29-30, citing Administrative Circular No. 1-99 (Enhancing the Dignity of Courts as Temples of Justice and Promoting Respect for their Officials and Employees).
 Id., citing Basco v. Gregorio, A.M. No. P-94-1026, July 6, 1995, 245 SCRA 614, 619.
 Re: Employees Incurring Habitual Tardiness in the 1st Semester of 2007: Ms. Marivic C. Azurin, et al., A.M. No. 2007-15-SC, January 19, 2009, 576 SCRA 121, 133-134.
 A.M. No. 2006-11-SC, September 13, 2006, 501 SCRA 638, 645.
 CSC Memorandum Circular No. 19-99 (September 14, 1999).
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