September 2005 - Philippine Supreme Court Decisions/Resolutions
A.M. No. P-05-2074 - Pablo Antimaro, et al. v. Roslyn P. Amores.
[A.M. NO. P-05-2074. September 16, 2005]
PABLO ANTIMARO, DINDA ANTIMARO, ANITA ODLIME, VIRGENCITA DESIATA, ESTER NADERA, JUDITH GERMAN, LITO ANTIMARO and QUIRILICO ANTIMARO, Complainants, v. ROSLYN P. AMORES, Court Stenographer, Regional Trial Court, Branch 3, Butuan City, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
Roslyn P. Amores, Court Stenographer at Branch 3, Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Butuan, failed to timely transcribe her stenographic notes (TSN) taken during the December 23, 2003 hearing in Special Civil Case No. 1190, "Roman Catholic Church of Butuan City, et al. v. Dinda Antimaro, et al.," for Injunction, Preliminary Prohibitory and Mandatory Injunction, Damages, Attorney's Fees, with prayer for Restraining Order (the case),1 drawing the filing of a verified complaint2 dated February 12, 2004 by the therein defendants Pablo Antimaro, Dinda Antimaro, Anita Odlime, Virgencita Desiata, Ester Nadera, Judith German, Lito Antimaro and Quirilico Antimaro, for Gross Neglect of Duty, Inefficiency, Incompetence, Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service and Violation of Section 4 and 5 of Republic Act 6713.
Complainants give the following detailed account which spawned the filing of the present administrative complaint.
On December 23, 2003, after a hearing for the issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction/Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) in the case was conducted, Judge Francisco F. Maclang (Judge Maclang), Presiding Judge of Branch 3 of RTC of Butuan City, issued a TRO.
Immediately after the December 23, 2003 hearing, on the instruction of their counsel, herein complainants sought to procure from respondent a certified true copy of the TSN thereof.
When the request for a copy of the TSN was reiterated during the December 28, 2003 hearing of the case, respondent told complainants that she was busy transcribing the TSN of other cases which needed her immediate attention. Respondent further told complainants that the TSN had to be approved first by Judge Maclang for correction before she could release it.
As despite numerous follow-ups, respondent proffered the excuse that she was busy transcribing the TSN of other cases, complainants put in writing, by letter of January 19, 2004, their request for a copy of the TSN of the December 23 hearing, as well as the TSN of the December 28, 2003 hearing of the case.
On the first week of February 2004, complainants again reminded respondent of their request, warning her that they would file an administrative complaint against her if she persisted in not heeding it, to which she retorted "UNSA NGA KASO ANG IPASAKA SA AKO, BUSY PA KO IHATAG NAKO ANG TSN ON OR 15 MARCH 2004."
Hence, the present complaint, complainants asserting that respondent's obstinate refusal to furnish them a copy of the TSN resulted in the delay in their filing of a Petition for Certiorari with the Court of Appeals, and that her proffered excuse was unfounded because every time they made a follow-up of their request, she was doing nothing.
In her Comment3 dated June 21, 2004, respondent gives her side of the complaint as follows:
On December 23, 2003, although there was no case calendared for hearing, it being their Christmas party, in view of the urgency of the prayer for the issuance of a Preliminary Injunction/TRO, the case was specially calendared. Since there was no assigned stenographer for that particular day, she volunteered her services. While there was indeed a request made by complainants for a copy of the TSN, she made known her inability to immediately transcribe her notes on that day because they were lengthy.
On the hearing of December 29, 2003, not December 28, 2003 which was a Sunday, she was not the stenographer on duty. Neither was she on duty on the January 5, 2004 hearing.
Complainants indeed made repeated requests for a copy of the TSN, to the point of harassing her as almost everyday, one of them would make a follow-up in the morning and another would do the same in the afternoon. It was on account of complainants' persistent requests that she took the matter up with Judge Maclang who advised her not to be pressured by complainants or their representative because the TSN was no longer needed as the order granting the TRO would not be reconsidered. In fact Judge Maclang instructed her to give priority to typing decisions and resolutions of the court.
December 23, 2003 was the last work day before Christmas break. Office work resumed on December 29 until 30, 2003, after which another holiday break ensued and office work resumed on January 5, 2004.
Before the December 23, 2003 hearing, however, she was on duty for two weeks and was thus busy transcribing the notes she had taken. As a stenographer, she did not only transcribe stenographic notes but also typed court resolutions, orders and decisions which take precedence over transcription of stenographic notes.
While she assured complainants that she would finish transcribing the notes before the scheduled hearing of the case on March 12, 2004, she did accomplish the same about a month earlier and gave a copy thereof to complainants on February 17, 2004.
Complainants, in their Reply dated August 9, 2004, deny respondent's claim that she furnished them a copy of the TSN on February 17, 2004, the same having been released on February 23, 2004, two months after the notes were taken.
The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) recommends that for dereliction of duty,4 respondent be ordered to pay a fine in the amount of One Thousand (
Administrative Circular No. 24-90 requires all stenographers "to transcribe all stenographic notes and to attach the transcripts to the record of the case not later than twenty (20) days from the time the notes are taken." Stenographers are thus given twenty (20) days from the taking of the notes to deliver their transcription to the clerk of court.5
Respondent thus proffers the following justification behind her delay in the transcription of her notes '' discharging her other duties of typing and encoding of decisions, resolutions and orders of the court, transcribing earlier taken stenographic notes in other cases, and lengthy notes of the proceedings on December 23, 2003.
Albeit this Court is solicitous of the plight of court stenographers, in the absence of compelling reasons to justify respondent's failure to strictly comply with her duty within the prescribed period, she must be faulted. Otherwise, every government employee charged with negligence and dereliction of duty will always proffer a similar excuse to escape punishment to the great prejudice of public service.6 The above-stated justification for the delay in the transcription of her notes is, however, mitigating.
WHEREFORE, respondent Roslyn P. Amores, Court Stenographer III, Regional Trial Court, Branch 3, Butuan City, is hereby found guilty of simple neglect of duty for which she is FINED One Thousand (
P1,000.00) Pesos and WARNED that commission of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely.
Panganiban, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, Corona, and Garcia, JJ., concur.
1 Rollo at 13.
2 Rollo at 3.
3 Rollo at 49.
4 Rollo at 226.
6 Ongkiko, Kalaw, Dizon, Panga and Velasco Law Offices v. Sangil-Makasiar, 256 SCRA 29, 34-35 (1996).