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[A.M. No. 2002-8-SC.  June 25, 2003]

DE GUZMAN vs. DELOS SANTOS

EN BANC

Gentlemen:

Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of this Court dated JUN 25 2003.

A.M. No. 2002-8-SC (Zenaida de Guzman vs. Antonio delos Santos, Information Officer III, Publication and Circulation Division, Office of the Reporter.)

On 18 December 2002 we found respondent Antonio delos Santos, Information Officer III, Publication and Circulation Division, Office of the Reporter, this Court, guilty of dishonesty and falsification of an official document and dismissed him from the service "with prejudice to re-employment in any government agency and government-owned or controlled corporation, and with forfeiture of retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits earned prior to 10 December 1991, if any."

In this Petition for Clemency and Compassion with Motion for Reconsideration dated 17 January 2003 respondent delos Santos prays that our Decision be modified, that he be deemed resigned from the service instead, and that his leave credits and other benefits be released to him.

In praying for a graceful exit respondent cites several mitigating circumstances which he invokes in his favor: First, that this is his first infraction in all his twenty-six (26) years in the government service, respondent citing Neeland v. Villanueva[1]cralaw where the Court considered the fact that respondent was a first-time offender in clear mitigation of his administrative liability. Secondly, respondent avers that he has always received a consistent "Very Satisfactory" performance rating; and, third, that he had introduced various innovations in the Court which increased his co-workers' efficiency. Respondent also prays for mercy as he is already fifty (50) years old and would find it difficult to start a new career; that he is the sole breadwinner in a family of five (5) children; that his house is still mortgaged to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and will be foreclosed if he fails to pay the monthly amortizations; and, that he is an innocent victim of circumstances who had no intention of committing an impropriety. Moreover, his superior, Deputy Clerk of Court and Reporter Ma. Piedad B. Ferrer-Campaņa, and officemates at the Office of the Reporter voluntarily executed a paper entitled "Statements of Concern and Sympathy Towards a Co-Worker" attesting to his traits and character as a human being and as a co-worker, and as an efficient and effective employee of the Court.

We have indeed shown compassion in imposing the penalty of forfeiture of leave credits and retirement benefits and disqualification for reemployment in government-owned and controlled corporations in a number of cases involving judges and court personnel.[2]cralaw Thus in Cathay Pacific Airways, Ltd. v. Romillo Jr.,[3]cralaw and Prudencial Bank v Castro,[4]cralaw we allowed the respondent judges to enjoy all vacation and sick leave benefits earned during the period of their government service upon letters seeking the Court's compassion and out of humanitarian considerations. Again in Castillo v. Calanog, Jr.,[5]cralaw we lifted the penalty of disqualification from appointment to any public office upon the filing of a petition for clemency and compassion where respondent showed sincere repentance and after considering his contributions during the period that he was a judge. Also in Sabitsana, Jr. v. Villamor[6]cralaw we heeded respondent judge's plea for compassion and mercy and allowed him to enjoy all vacation and sick leave benefits that he earned during the period of his government service.

Considering the foregoing and in view of the fact that this is respondent's first infraction in all his twenty-six (26) years in the government; that he consistently received a "Very Satisfactory" rating in the semesters prior to his dismissal, and out of humanitarian considerations, we deem it just and fair to allow respondent to enjoy all the vacation and sick leave benefits he has earned during the period of his government service without distinction as to whether they were earned prior to 10 December 1991. Further, his disqualification to hold public office is removed.

ACCORDINGLY, the Dispositive portion of this Court's Decision of 18 December 2002 is MODIFIED to read as follows:

WHEREFORE, for Dishonesty and Falsification of an Official Document, respondent ANTONIO DELOS SANTOS is DISMISSED from the service. He shall henceforth cease and desist from performing the functions of his present position as Information Officer III, Publication and Circulation Division, Office of the Reporter, this Court. He may, however, enjoy all the vacation and sick leave benefits he has earned during the period of his government service, including those earned prior to 10 December 1991. His disqualification to re-employed in any government agency or government owned or controlled corporation earlier decreed by the Court is LIFTED. This Decision shall take effect immediately.

Very truly yours,

LUZVIMINDA D. PUNO

Clerk of Court

(Sgd.) MA. LUISA D. VILLARAMA

Asst. Clerk of Court



Endnotes:

[1]cralaw A.M. No. P-99-1316, 31 August 2001.

[2]cralaw Meris v. Ofilada, A.M. No. RTJ-97-1390, 17 October 2001, 367 SCRA 321.

[3]cralaw G.R. No. 64276, 12 August 1986, 143 SCRA 386.

[4]cralaw Adm. Case No. 2756, 27 June 1988, 162 SCRA 554.

[5]cralaw A.M. No. RTJ-90-447, 12 July 1991, 199 SCRA 75.

[6]cralaw A.M. RTJ No. 90-474 and RTJ No. 90-606, 7 February 1992.


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