This is an administrative complaint for immorality filed by Emmanuel M. Gibas, Jr. (complainant) against his wife Ma. Jesusa E. Gibas (respondent Gibas) and Franconello S. Lintao (respondent Lintao). Respondent Gibas was then Court Stenographer I of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Guiguinto, Bulacan but was detailed at Branch 80, Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Malolos City, Bulacan while respondent Lintao was Sheriff IV of Branch 83 of RTC, Malolos City.
In his Sinumpaang Salaysay
dated 17 September 2007, complainant accused his wife, respondent Gibas, of having an illicit relationship with respondent Lintao, who is also married to another person. Complainant alleged that he started having suspicions about his wife's indiscretions in January 2007 when, while working as a seaman abroad, his thrice weekly phone calls at 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. were often answered by their children because his wife was still not home. When complainant came back to the Philippines, he discovered that all their jewelries were missing. Complainant then searched through his wife's belongings and found a digital camera inside his wife's bag. Looking at the images in the camera, he was shocked to see images of a half-naked man, which he suspected was taken inside a motel room. Complainant later learned the identity of the half-naked man as respondent Lintao when he showed the image to his son and daughter, who told him respondent Lintao often went to their house and stayed at the master's bedroom with their mother (respondent Gibas). When questioned, complainant's son narrated that his mother (respondent Gibas) even scolded him when he peeped inside the room and saw respondent Lintao wrapped only in a white blanket. Their five-year old daughter even identified the man as "Franco" and told complainant that she saw both her mother and respondent Lintao naked and kissing inside the room. Complainant submitted several pictures of respondents Gibas and Lintao in very intimate and romantic poses to further support his allegations.
In her Sinumpaang Kontra-Salaysay
dated 16 October 2007, respondent Gibas denied the accusations of complainant and dismissed most of complainant's allegations as mere fabrications. Respondent Gibas attributed the missing jewelries to her failure to watch over their house and belongings because she was busy working in the court the whole day. She denied any knowledge of the half-naked images of respondent Lintao in her digital camera and explained that respondent Lintao once borrowed the camera during a family occasion. As regards the intimate pictures of her and respondent Lintao, respondent Gibas stated that those pictures were just random shots taken during their frequent outing with friends and were taken without any malice.
Complainant, in his Sagot Sa Kontra Salaysay,
countered that the pictures of respondents Gibas and Lintao clearly indicate their intimate relationship. Complainant narrated that he was able to locate the motel where his wife and respondent Lintao regularly checked-in. Complainant alleged that when the security guard of the motel was shown pictures of respondents Gibas and Lintao, the security guard confirmed that respondents indeed frequented the motel.
Respondent Gibas filed a Motion to Dismiss
dated 5 January 2009, asserting that since she had been dropped from the rolls effective 1 February 2007 and the complaint against her was filed only on 18 September 2007, the Court no longer had jurisdiction over her person. Records show that in a resolution of the Court dated 30 July 2007 in A.M. No. 07-6-286-RTC,
respondent Gibas was dropped from the rolls effective 1 February 2007 for absence without official leave (AWOL). However, upon verification from the Office of the Administrative Services, the OCA discovered that on 30 October 2008, respondent Gibas was re-employed as Clerk III and assumed office on 5 November 2008 at the Regional Trial Court, Office of the Clerk of Court, Baguio City.
Further investigation revealed that when respondent Gibas applied for the new position, she did not disclose in her personal data sheet that she had a pending administrative charge of immorality and that she was dropped from the rolls due to AWOL.
Respondent Lintao, on the other hand, has failed to file his comment despite being given several opportunities to comment on the complaint. In a resolution of the Court dated 23 June 2008 in A.M. No. 08-4-229, respondent Lintao was likewise dropped from the rolls effective 1 March 2007 for AWOL.
The Court, in a resolution
dated 8 July 2009, re-docketed this administrative complaint
as regular administrative matter A.M. No. P-09-2651. In a resolution
dated 30 September 2009, the Court resolved to refer the administrative complaint against respondents to the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos City, Bulacan for investigation, report and recommendation.
The Report of the Investigating Judge
In his Report dated 16 March 2010, the Investigating Judge found respondents Gibas and Lintao guilty of immorality, thus:
Complainant affirmed all the material allegations in his filed sworn statements and on clarificatory questioning stressed that prior to his arrival from the United States as a seaman, he noted some behavioral change from his wife Ma. Jesusa Gibas on calling her everyday at home, [s]he cannot be contacted with reports reaching him that she was seen in unholy hours elsewhere. For three or four days after coming home unannounced on August 28, 2007, his wife respondent was nowhere. Their children were found surviving from "food borrowed from the store" and unattended to. Texting thereafter his wife, the latter responded. Both met in a fast food chain in Malolos City. Psyching his wife respondent, who by then acknowledged his suspicion, and on her taking a nap upon coming home, complainant managed to secure pictures of his wife and respondent sheriff in uncompromising situations, found in their digital camera and inside the shoulder bag of his wife. Such relationship was likewise verified [by] their children. In addition he was able to gather the police report on the accident involving his wife respondent and respondent Lintao on board the vehicle at an untimely hour evidenced by pictures taken of the duo alleged to be drunk then sleeping in the car. Complainant and children are now living separate from respondent Gibas.
Against these imputations, respondent Ma. Jesusa Gibas only submitted and marked her sworn statements and reiterated her plea to resolve the motion to dismiss the administrative charge filed against her and its supplemental motion.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION
Testimonial and documentary evidence support the complaint of Emmanuel Gibas, Jr. against his wife respondent Ma. Jesusa Gibas and respondent Sheriff IV Franconello Lintao. Forming integral part of the letter complaint of Emmanuel M. Gibas, Jr. are pictures which eloquently captured the intimacy between the two respondents. That the pictures are but a result of camaraderie of their "barkada" is a lame excuse to relieve respondents from any sanction.
Denial was the pronounced defense of respondent Ma. Jesusa Gibas. Pitted against the affirmative allegations of the complainant, the same has to be rightfully dismissed. Between positive allegations and negative allegations, the former control and are more credible in standing.
The further raised argument that the disciplining authority has lost jurisdiction over respondent Ma. Jesusa Gibas is already a resolved issue.
As regards respondent Franconello Lintao, it has been said that his refusal to submit his comments constitutes a clear and willful disrespect to the lawful orders of the office of the Court Administrator, a conduct which cannot be brushed aside. His deafening silence, from evidentiary point is an admission of guilt.
Given the foregoing, this Office is persuaded with the merits of the complaint and respondents must be meted the additional accessory penalties involved in the dismissal from the service x x x.
The OCA's Report and Recommendation
The OCA adopted the findings and recommendation of the Investigating Judge. The OCA agreed with the Investigating Judge that complainant was able to support his charge of immorality against respondents Gibas and Lintao.
The OCA recommended that respondents Gibas and Lintao be dismissed from service, thus:
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, and considering the baseness of the immoral acts of respondents, we respectfully submit, for the consideration of the Honorable Court, the recommendations that:
- the Report, dated 16 March 2010, of Executive Judge Herminia V. Pagsamba, Regional Trial Court, Malolos City, be NOTED;
- the respondent, Ma. Jesusa A. G[i]bas, former Court Stenographer I, Municipal Trial Court, Guiguinto Bulacan, and now Clerk III, Regional Trial Court, Office of the Clerk of Court, Baguio City, be found guilty of immorality and be DISMISSED FROM SERVICE with forfeiture of all salaries and benefits, cancellation of eligibility, except accrued leave credits to which she may be entitled, and with disqualification from reinstatement or appointment to any public office, including government-owned or controlled corporation; and
- the respondent, Franconello S. Lintao, Sheriff IV, Regional Trial Court, Branch 83, Malolos City, Bulacan, be found guilty of immorality and be DISMISSED FROM SERVICE with forfeiture of all salaries and benefits, except accrued leave credits to which he may be entitled, cancellation of eligibility, and with disqualification from reinstatement or appointment to any public office, including government-owned or controlled corporation.
The Ruling of the Court
We will first resolve the issue of jurisdiction raised by respondent Gibas. In her Motion to Dismiss dated 5 January 2009, respondent Gibas claims that the Court has no jurisdiction over her person since she has been dropped from the rolls effective 1 February 2007 and the complaint against her was filed only later on 18 September 2007. However, records reveal that respondent Gibas has been re-appointed on 30 October 2008 as Clerk III at the Regional Trial Court of Baguio City and thereafter assumed office on 5 November 2008. Thus, when this administrative complaint was re-docketed by the Court as regular administrative matter A.M. No. P-09-2651 in a resolution dated 8 July 2009, respondent Gibas was already re-appointed as Clerk III. We therefore hold that the Court has jurisdiction over respondent Gibas.
The Court further notes that when the OCA investigated this administrative case against respondent Gibas, the OCA found that respondent Gibas accomplished her personal data sheet on 19 August 2008 for her re-employment as Clerk III without disclosing that she had a pending administrative case for immorality. As a result of this concealment, respondent Gibas was administratively charged with falsification of personal data sheet, which administrative matter A.M. No. P-10-2755 is still pending with the Court.
With regard to respondent Lintao, he not only failed to comment on the complaint but also failed to attend the hearings before the Investigating Judge despite notice sent by mail.
However, since respondent Lintao was dropped from the rolls effective 1 March 2007 for AWOL and has not been re-appointed, we hold that the Court has no jurisdiction over respondent Lintao. Respondent Lintao was no longer a court employee when the complaint was filed on 18 September 2007 and when the administrative complaint was re-docketed by the Court as regular administrative matter A.M. No. P-09-2651 in the resolution dated 8 July 2009.
On the charge of immorality, the findings and recommendations of both the Investigating Judge and the OCA are well-taken, except for the recommended penalty of dismissal from service which is not in accordance with the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service.
As found by the Investigating Judge and the OCA, complainant was able to substantiate the charge of immorality against the respondents. In his testimony, complainant affirmed the material allegations in his sworn statements. The incriminating pictures submitted by complainant clearly showed the intimate relationship between respondents and belied respondent Gibas' claim that they are just friends. The images of the half-naked respondent Lintao with only a towel wrapped around his waist, found in respondent Gibas' digital camera, further support complainant's allegation of respondents' illicit relationship.
Court employees should maintain moral righteousness and uprightness in their professional and private conduct to preserve the integrity and dignity of the courts of justice.
Court personnel should avoid any act of impropriety which tarnishes the honor and dignity of the Judiciary, thus:
Every employee of the judiciary should be an example of integrity, uprightness and honesty. Like any public servant, he must exhibit the highest sense of honesty and integrity not only in the performance of his official duties but in his personal and private dealings with other people, to preserve the court's good name and standing. It cannot be overstressed that the image of a court of justice is mirrored in the conduct, official and otherwise, of the personnel who work thereat, from the judge to the lowest of its personnel. Court employees have been enjoined to adhere to the exacting standards of morality and decency in their professional and private conduct in order to preserve the good name and integrity of courts of justice.
Respondent Gibas failed to refute the charge filed against her and respondent Lintao. In fact, respondent Gibas chose not to testify during the hearing of the administrative matter scheduled on 25 February 2010 and held in the office of the Investigating Judge, which respondent Gibas attended. Even the counsel of respondent Gibas did not cross examine complainant on the main points of his testimony but merely questioned complainant whether he received the motion to dismiss filed by respondent Gibas.
Under Section 52(A)(15), Rule IV of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service,
disgraceful and immoral conduct is classified as a grave offense for which the imposable penalty for the first offense is six months and one day to one year while the penalty for the second offense is dismissal.
Thus, in several cases,
the Court suspended for six months and one day the respondents found guilty of immorality, taking into consideration that it was their first offense.
Similarly, this is the first offense for respondent Gibas. Hence, the Court deems the recommended penalty of dismissal inappropriate. In accordance with the prescribed penalty in the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, the penalty of six months and one day is sufficient considering that this is respondent Gibas' first offense for immorality.WHEREFORE
, we find respondent Ma. Jesusa E. Gibas GUILTY
of immorality. We SUSPEND
Ma. Jesusa E. Gibas from service for six months and one day without pay and other fringe benefits including leave credits, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future shall be dealt with more severely. We DISMISS
the administrative case against Franconello S. Lintao for lack of jurisdiction.SO ORDERED
Nachura, Brion,* Peralta, and Abad, JJ., concur.
[*] Designated additional member per Special Order No. 975 dated 21 March 2011.
 Rollo, pp. 1-4.
 Id. at 51-60.
 Id. at 116-122.
 Id. at 138-139.
 Re: Absence Without Official Leave (AWOL) of Ms. Jesusa Gibas, Court Stenographer I, RTC, Br. 80, Malolos Bulacan; rollo, pp. 141-142.
 Rollo, p. 182.
 Id. at 185.
 Id. at 173-174.
 OCA IPI No. 07-2676-P.
 Rollo, p. 201
 Id. at 247-248.
 Id. at 365.
 Id. at 253.
 Under Section 52(A)(15), Rule IV of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, disgraceful and immoral conduct is classified as a grave offense for which the imposable penalty for the first offense is six months and one day to one year while the penalty for the second offense is dismissal.
 Court Employees of the MCTC, Ramon Magsaysay, Zamboanga del Sur v. Sy, A.M. No. P-93-808, 25 November 2005, 476 SCRA 127; Hernandez v. Aribuabo, 400 Phil. 763 (2000).
 Bucatcat v. Bucatcat, 380 Phil. 555, 567 (2000).
 Adopted by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) through Resolution No. 99-1936, dated 31 August 1999, and which took effect on 27 September 1999.
 Elape v. Elape, A.M. No. P.-08-2431, 16 April 2008, 551 SCRA 403; Licardo v. Licardo, A.M. No. P-06-2238, 27 September 2007, 534 SCRA 181; Nalupta, Jr. v. Tapec, A.M. No. P-88-263, 30 March 1993, 220 SCRA 505.