Tenorio v. Perlas (A.M. No. P-10-2817; January 26, 2011)


FACTS: An administrative complaint was filed by Tenorio against Sheriff Perlas, charging the latter with oppression, dishonesty and grave misconduct under RA 6713 and with violations of RA 3019 relative to the implementation of the Writ of Preliminary Attachment in Civil Case No. 15251.According to the complaint, Sheriff Perlas served upon Tenorio, the mother of Marissa Pile, a Notice of Levy on Attachment addressed to spouses Pile in a discourteous and arrogant manner. Afterwards, Tenorio showed the registration of her two dump trucks to show that she is the registered owner and to beg the Sheriff not to confiscate such. However, Sheriff Perlas forcibly took the trucks without verifying with the LTO as to who were the true registered owners. Also, Tenorio alleged that Edgardo Pile, in his affidavit, stated that he refused to surrender the trucks because he paid Sheriff Perlas money for them.

Sheriff Perlas denied the allegations. She claimed that she did not find the Pile spouses at their store Ten Rey General Merchandise. She then proceeded to the Pile spouses' address which turned out to be Tenorio's address. When she saw the trucks she believed in good faith that they belonged to the Pile spouses when Tenorio failed to present the certificates of registration of the vehicles at the time of the taking.

Subsequently, Tenorio moved for the dismissal of the administrative case because the trucks had already been returned and that Sheriff Perlas already personally apologized to her. However, Court Administrator Marquez issued his evaluation and recommendation on the case, stating that herein respondent Sheriff Perlas was grossly inefficient and guilty of misconduct in implementing the subject Writ of Preliminary Attachment.

ISSUE: Was Sheriff Perlas grossly inefficient and guilty of misconduct in implementing the subject Writ of Preliminary Attachment?

HELD: Sheriff Perlas failed to discharge her functions with due care and utmost diligence. Mere failure on the part of Tenorio and the drivers to present the certificates of registration of the vehicles at the time of taking should have prompted her to exhaust all means to discover the true identity of the owners.

As to the alleged turn-over of the trucks made by Sheriff Perlas in favor of the attaching party after receiving money from the latter, there is lack of substantial evidence to prove it. Administrative proceedings are governed by the substantial evidence rule, i.e., such amount of relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. The standard of substantial evidence is justified when there is reasonable ground to believe that respondent is responsible for the misconduct complained of, even if such evidence is not overwhelming or even preponderant. In the instant case, aside from the affidavit of Edgardo Pile, no other evidence was presented by the complainant to support the allegation that Sheriff Perlas received the money. Such cannot be considered substantial enough to support a finding of a serious charge.

Accordingly, Sheriff Perlas is only guilty of misconduct in the discharge of her functions. Misconduct is a transgression of an established rule of action. More particularly, misconduct is the unlawful behavior of a public officer. It means the "intentional wrongdoing or deliberate violation of a rule of law or standard of behavior, especially by a government official." In order for misconduct to constitute an administrative offense, it should be related to or connected with the performance of the official functions and duties of a public officer. GRANTED.

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