Home : Chan Robles Virtual Law LibraryChan Robles Virtual Law LibraryPhilippine Supreme Court Decisions | Resolutions : Chan Robles Virtual Law Library

ChanRobles™Virtual Law Library | chanrobles.com™  

Prof. Joselito Guianan Chan's The Labor Code of the Philippines, Annotated, Labor Relations, Volume II of a 3-Volume Series 2017 Edition, 5th Revised Edition,
ChanRobles Internet Bar Review : www.chanroblesbar.com DebtKollect Company, Inc. - Debt Collection Firm Intellectual Property Division - Chan Robles Law Firm

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE




www.chanrobles.com

FIRST DIVISION

A.M. No. P-94-1034 February 21, 1997

LEWELYN S. ESTRELLER, Complainant, v. SOFRONIO MANATAD, JR. Court Interpreter I, Respondent.

KAPUNAN, J.:

In a sworn affidavit-complaint executed on November 18, 1992 Lewelyn S. Estreller charged respondent Sofronio Manatad, Jr., a married man, with disgraceful and immoral conduct in violation of the Civil Service Law. 1 The respondent is Court Interpreter I, Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Malitbog-Bontoc-Tomas Oppus, Southern Leyte, whose conduct allegedly resulted in the birth of a child named Joahana Niña Salan, with respondent named as father and complainant as mother in the Certificate of Baptism. 2

The affidavit-complaint contained the following allegations:

xxx xxx xxx

1. That I am the lawful mother of Joahana Niña Salan, who was born on October 23, 1985, in Sogod District Hospital, Sogod, Southern Leyte (attached is a zerox copy of Certificate of Live Birth issued by the Local Civil Registrar of Sogod, Southern Leyte under Local Civil Registry No. 85-758 marked as appendix "A");

2. That the true father of Joahana Niña Salan is Mr. Sofronio Manatad, Jr., who is presently employed as Court Interpreter I, of Malitbog Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Malitbog, Southern Leyte (attached is a zerox copy of Certificate of Baptism which was officiated by Rev. Father Lorenzo Suarez, Jr., Parish Priest of Sogod, Southern Leyte, marked as appendix "A"-1);

3. That Joahana Niña Salan was conceived by me when I was still single on February 1985;

4. That I met Mr. Sofronio Manatad, Jr. at San Isidro Community College, Tomas Oppus, Southern Leyte on October 1984 for I was also enrolled in said college taking up BSEED course;

5. That as school mate he courted me and I accepted his proposal after he told me that he was single;

6. That because of his promised (sic) to marry me, I surrender my physical being to his desire, as a result I begotted Joahana Niña Salan;

7. That I only know that he was married when I was already conceiving;

8. That Mr. Sofronio Manatad, Jr. was already in the government service when he deceived me into believing that he was still single;

9. That I am charging Mr. Sofronio Manatad, Jr. of disgraceful and Immoral conduct as envisioned in the Civil Service Law and Rules;

xxx xxx xxx 3

Respondent, in his counter-affidavit, denied having courted complainant or that she did not know at the time that he was a married man. Nonetheless, he admitted that he was the father of her child named Joahana Niña Salan in her Certificate of Baptism. The counter-affidavit is reproduced hereunder.

xxx xxx xxx

1. That I was employed in the Office of the Municipal Circuit Trial Judge, 2nd Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Malitbog Tomas Oppus-Bontoc, Southern Leyte since November 2, 1978 and up to the present;

2. That within those years, I was studying in the Tomas Oppus Community College, San Isidro, Tomas Oppus, Southern Leyte in an evening classes for the purpose of attaining profession,

3. That due to the affidavit-complaint filed by the complainant in the provincial resident ombudsman, Hen. Benvolio K. Bascug and was duly endorsed for action to the Office of the Ombudsman of the Visayas, the Hon. Antonio B. Yap, Graft Investigation Officer I, issued an Order duly noted by the Hon. Vicente Y. Varela, Jr. Director of the OMB Visayas, requiring the undersigned to submit my counter-affidavit;

4. That the allegations stated in paragraph (1) one and three (3) is admitted but the pars. two (2), four (4), five (5), six (6), seven (7), eight (8), nine (9) and ten (10) are being objected to and highly considered as pure lies and fabricated testimonies;

5. That the allegation stated in par. two (2) of the affidavit-complaint filed by Lewelyn S. Estreller thru the Resident Ombudsman to the good office of the Hon. Juan M. Hagad and to the good office of the Hon. Vicente Y. Varela, Jr., is vehemently denied by me considering that since we were confronted in the Office of the Barangay Captain of San Isidro, Tomas Oppus, Southern Leyte, I never accepted and have explained scientifically that I am not the father of the said child even if the deceased barangay captain during such time applied a light threats against me that accordingly, if I am not going to amen something will happen to me badly;

6. That it is not true that I courted Lewelyn Salan Estreller during the time of our being classmates in few subjects as I could not do the same being known to be a married man by the public and whose residence is about four (4) kilometers away from San Isidro Tomas Oppus, Southern Leyte, where she resides;

7. That it is a plain lie and very unbelievable to say that Lewelyn Salan Estreller did not know my status of being married considering that during our pre-acquaintances with and of all our classmates, we were made to introduce ourselves to the class as usually requested by the teachers and as a matter of fact, being member of the court will, tell to the students and faculty members the truths and honesty to them as an essence of being one of the standards of the community;

8. That years before our being classmates we were already schoolmates and it is only a matter of natural phenomenon that I, being the elected Prexy of the Student Body Council of that institution and that of being known by the public, that she could know my status of being married;

9. That it is also a plain lie and not true that I courted her and proposed her to a marriage because of the above-cited reasons and besides, my beautiful, loving and caring wife oftenly met me in the school carrying/bringing with her my snacks and dinner so that when going home, I have with her my companion;

10. That aside from being classmates, Lewelyn Salan Estreller has many classmates coming from our barrio and neighboring barangays;

11. That considering such facts, there runs the exact conclusions that Lewelyn Salan Estreller really is implying false and a fabricated statements;

12. That I realized that I was able to unexpectedly have a sexual intercourse with her but it happened not because I courted and proposed to have marriage with her but the same happened in one and only moment when I got drunk from a birthday party of our friend and have incidentally reached in blank mental sense that without the presence of my full consciousness that she brought me to the lodging house of my cousin which is her friend and lay down with me and declared the following morning that something that had happened between her and me;

13. That since such time I did no longer take a time to accede her invitations of any kind of party as people around told me that such woman accordingly has plenty of sweethearts and that her father and brothers are so brave and dangerous;

14. That I got worried to what had happened and I really could not forget that very unusual date and feel so uneasy counting the numbers of threats received by me from that woman that if I continued on having a gap with her, she will accordingly do something bad against me and my family which do I believed to be a sort of blackmailing;

15. That few months later, she, by letter, told me that she was pregnant and then told me to escape from my wife and abandon my job as she have the intention to go to another place with me but I refused and ultimately informed her father about her situation and then summoned me to appear to the office of the Barangay Captain;

16. That I was surprised and wonder that when she delivered the baby and to count the number of months since that happening between me and her, there was only six months that had passed and so therefore, I firmly concluded that I am not the real father of the said child;

17. That conclusively, when that unexpected sexual intercourse so happens, that woman was already pregnant with three months old fetus in her womb;

18. That I confronted her these matters and she asked forgiveness from me and told me that it was because of her much love and affection for me that causes her to do such things upon me;

19. That according to Lewelyn S. Estreller that when she was mauled by her father, the latter told her to mention my name as the one responsible for that pregnancy and that because she could not be able to resist the pain, there she, even with negative minds, have the second thoughts of admitting that I am the father of the child because the man which really has the responsibility escaped away;

20. That in such admission by Lewelyn S. Estreller her confessed mistakes was known by me and with that I got pity on her but have no intention of giving her support but because of the continuous attempt of her parents for my life, I was forced to give her support financially and in any other way for the child;

21. That after giving the first support in terms of money we have reached and garnered back our good relationship with the parents of Lewelyn S. Estreller because they are my friends prior to the unexpected happenings or tragedy;

22. That since then I was always inviting them that a blood test and a bloody types analization will be made in Cebu known Hospitals in order to confirm that I am not the father of the child but instead they all got angry with me again and vehemently refuses my request;

23. That in order to know the reality about the affidavit-complaint, I confronted her brother why they are again complaining against me and asked them whether they are not satisfied with the financial support and admitted thereto and to the second reason that they were only advised by third persons who, after my verification, are the people who are envious with my position now in the government being a court interpreter;

24. That I really could realized that nowadays, to comment, those people whose intentions are to always do good for the country and god are those people who are always going to be tortured mentally and socially persecuted by those evil people working in the government who don't want for good deeds;

25. That in one way or another, it is my honest belief that this affidavit-complaint filed and executed by Lewelyn Salan Estreller was being made not because of her lone desire but because of being influenced by evil motives of third persons who by way of secret surveillance have concerted for my downfall;

26. That I executed this counter-affidavit with prayers that this should be given due considerations and to request heartfully the Hon. Director and his deputies to consider the affidavit-complaint to have no more force and effect. 4

The case was referred for investigation, report and recommendation to Executive Judge Leandro T. Loyao, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 24, Maasin, Southern Leyte.

Hearing was initially set for July 13, 1994, but was repeatedly postponed for various reasons until August 18, 1994, when the parties finally appeared. Complainant Estreller was represented by her counsel, Atty. Rogelio Gabucan of the PAO, while respondent Manatad, Jr. manifested that he was appearing for and in his behalf, waiving his constitutional right to be assisted by a counsel of his choice. He asserted that he was ready to proceed with the investigation without the assistance of a lawyer.

Complainant, instead of presenting her witnesses, submitted her Motion to Withdraw Complaint dated August 18, 1994. Complainant manifested that by reason of her filing the motion to withdraw complaint, she was no longer presenting her evidence, documentary or testimonial, in support of her affidavit-complaint dated November 18, 1992 against the respondent. Complainant had this to say in her motion:

xxx xxx xxx

4. lately, after soul-searching deliberations and considerations of the circumstances surrounding instant case, I have come to entertain doubts as to the responsibility of herein respondent for the administrative charge filed herein against him, coupled with the fact that my witnesses have turned hostile to my cause and presently they are nowhere to be found without leaving any known address;

5. moreover, I am now a married woman where my concern to my own family is paramount and more important than the further prosecution of this case, as a result of which I have lost interest in pursuing this administrative matter against the herein respondent;

xxx xxx xxx 5

Respondent, on the other hand, also manifested that he had no objection to the motion to withdraw the complaint against him, and that by reason thereof, he was also foregoing and waiving the presentation of his evidence that would substantiate his counter-affidavit dated January 21, 1993.

Both parties agreed to formally terminate the investigation and submit the case for the resolution of the investigating Judge. On the basis of records and relevant documents appended thereto, the investigating Judge found respondent to have committed the administrative offense charged against him. However, said Judge, taking into consideration the fact that the complainant had withdrawn her complaint which was considered a "mitigation of sorts," 6 recommended that:

. . . respondent be only found guilty of a lesser offense of disgraceful, immoral conduct prior to entering the service and be meted an administrative reprimand (Sec. 22(e) 3rd paragraph, Rule XIV, Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V, EO #292) with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely. 7

The Office of the Court Administrator in its memorandum agreed with the findings of the investigating Judge, but recommended a stiffer penalty, that of a fine of Two Thousand (P2,000.00) Pesos with a warning that a repetition of the same offense will be dealt with more severely.

The Court agrees with the findings of both the investigating Judge and the Office of the Court Administrator that respondent indeed displayed immoral conduct and committed a disgraceful act.

It must, however, be noted that the withdrawal of the complaint does not have the legal effect of exonerating the respondent from administrative disciplinary action. A complaint for misconduct, malfeasance or misfeasance against a public officer or employee can not just be withdrawn at any time by the complainant because there is a need to maintain the faith and confidence of the people in the government and its agencies and instrumentalities. Proceedings in such case should not be made to depend on the whims and caprices of the complainants who are in a real sense, the only witness therein. 8 In fact the Court does not look with favor the affidavit of retraction especially when it is executed as an afterthought. 9 As held in Castillo v. Calanog, Jr. 10

It would be a dangerous rule for courts to reject testimonies solemnly taken before the courts of justice simply because the witnesses who had given them later on changed their mind for one reason or another; for such rule would make solemn trials a mockery and place the investigation of truth at the mercy of unscrupulous witness.

From the allegations in the affidavit-complaint and from the clear categorical admissions in respondent's counter-affidavit there is sufficient basis for this Court's sanctions, to wit:

12. That I realized that I was able to unexpectedly have [a] (sic) sexual intercourse with her but it happened not because I courted and proposed to have marriage with her but the same happened in one and only moment when I got drunk from a birthday party of our friend and have incidentally reached in blank mental sense that without the presence of my full consciousness that she brought me to the lodging house of my cousin which is her friend and lay down with me and declared the following morning that something had happened between her and me.

Moreover, in said counter-affidavit, particularly paragraphs 6, 7, and 8, respondent likewise admitted his status as a married man during the time he befriended complainant and became complainant's classmate in school, to wit:

6. That it is not true that I courted Lewelyn Salan Estreller during the time of our being classmates in few subjects as I could not do the same being known to be a married man by the public and whose residence is about four (4) kilometers away from San Isidro Tomas Oppus, Southern Leyte, where she resides;

7. That it is a plain lie and very unbelievable to say that Lewelyn Salan Estreller did not know my status of being married considering that during our pre-acquaintances with and of all our classmates, we were made to introduce ourselves to the class as usually requested by the teachers and as a matter of fact, being member of the court will, tell to the students and faculty members the truths and honesty to them as an essence of being one of the standards of the community;

8. That years before our being a classmate we were already schoolmates and it is only a matter of natural phenomenon that I, being the elected Prexy of the Student Body Council of that institution and that of being known by the public, that she could know my status of being married. 11

The fact that respondent had sexual intercourse with complainant without first having courted her does not constitute a defense. Neither can we consider the argument that he never concealed his status of being a married man to the complainant so it was only the latter who should be faulted for her own predicament. If anything, such statements reveal an infantile egotism and an unmitigated chauvinism in the man. His conduct was certainly disgraceful. Respondent was a married man and already a court employee at the time he had a sexual relationship with complainant.

It must be emphasized that 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. 12 We take this occasion to state that:

(T)he image of a court of justice is necessarily mirrored in the conduct, official or otherwise, of the men and women who work thereat, from the judge to the least and lowest of its personnel - hence, it becomes the imperative sacred duty of each and every one in the court to maintain its good name and standing as a true temple of justice. 13

Notwithstanding the affidavit of desistance, respondent's conduct diminished the confidence reposed by the public in the judiciary which was his foremost duty to protect as a public servant. This careless deportment cannot and should not pass sans sanctions from the Court. The penalty recommended by the Office of the Court Administrator is in order.

WHEREFORE, we find respondent guilty of disgraceful, immoral conduct and hereby impose a fine of P2,000.00 with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.

SO ORDERED

Padilla, Bellosillo, Vitug and Hermosisima, Jr., JJ., concur.


Endnotes:

1 Rollo, p. 7.

2 Id., at 75.

3 Id., at 7.

4 Id., at 12-14.

5 Id., at 63.

6 Id., at 78.

7 Id.

8 See Florendo v. Enrile, 239 SCRA 22 (1994).

9 People v. Romero, 224 SCRA 749 (1993); People v. Joya, 227 SCRA 9 (1993).

10 199 SCRA 75 (1991).

11 Rollo, p. 77.

12 Paredes v. Padua, 222 SCRA 881 (1993).

13 Danilo M. Sy v. Isabelita M. Cruz, 250 SCRA 639 (1995).




CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE

ChanRobles™ LawTube

FEATURED DECISIONScralaw




google search for chanrobles.comSearch for www.chanrobles.com

cralaw

QUICK SEARCH

cralaw


  Copyright © ChanRoblesPublishing Company|  Disclaimer | E-mailRestrictions
ChanRobles™Virtual Law Library | chanrobles.com™
 
RED