CASE DIGEST: DPB VS. JOAQUINO

A.M. No. P-10-2835: June 8, 2011
DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by Atty. Benilda A. Tejada, Chief Legal CounselComplainant, v.CLERK OF COURT VII ATTY. JEOFFREY S. JOAQUINO, Office of the Clerk of Court, and SHERIFF IV CONSTANCIO V. ALIMURUNG, Branch 18, both of the Regional Trial Court,CebuCityRespondents.
NACHURA, J.:
FACTS:
Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) filed a verified letter- complaint before the Office of the Court Administrator, charging Clerk of Court Joaquino with grave misconduct, abuse of authority, and gross ignorance of the law; and Sheriff IV Constancio V. Alimurung (Alimurung) with grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service relative to Civil Case No. CEB-29383, entitled "Spouses Florentino J. Palacio and Ellen Palacio, Palacio Shipping, Inc., and FJP Lines, Inc. v. Development Bank of the Philippines," for damages, judicial determination of amount of obligation, nullity/annulment/reformation of instruments and agreements, bloated principal obligation, excessive interest rates and penalties, judicial accounting and application of payment, specific performance, extinguishment of obligations, and attorneys fees.
On August 11, 2010, the Court issued a Resolution, which reads:

The CourtRESOLVEStoADOPTandAPPROVEthe findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator in the attached Report dated 27 January 2010 (Annex "A").Accordingly, the Court further resolves to:

1.RE-DOCKETthe instant administrative complaint as a regular administrative matter;

2.FINDrespondent Jeoffrey S. Joaquino, Clerk of Court VII, OCC, RTC, Cebu City,GUILTYof gross ignorance of the Rules and dereliction of duty and accordingly impose on him the penalty ofSUSPENSIONfor six (6) months without pay, withWARNINGthat a repetition of the same or similar offense in the future shall merit his dismissal from the service; and

ISSUE: Whether the penalty imposed is equitable
HELD: No.
POLITICAL LAW: Law on Public Officers, Penalties
A review of the penalty imposed on court employees who were administrably charged is justified,viz.:
InSepara,an administrative complaint was filed against respondents Branch Clerk of Court and Sheriffs for usurpation of authority, falsification, and gross ignorance of the law for declaring the Gualbertos as the lawful owner of Lot 1991-A, when the judgment sought to be enforced was the decision in another trial court which merely dismissed the case.The amended writ of execution issued by the Branch Clerk of Court directed the implementation of a decision which had already been set aside by the appellate court and subsequently dismissed by the RTC. Hence, the amended writ was void for two reasons: (1) the amended writ went beyond the order granting execution; and (2) respondent Branch Clerk of Court was not clothed with authority to issue the amended writ.The Supreme Court imposed a fine of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) on respondent Branch Clerk of Court for having issued the amended writ, which directed the execution of the judgment of another court.
InLeyrit v. Solas,the Branch Clerk of Court was held liable for simple misconduct. The Court imposed a fine equivalent to his three (3) months salary to be deducted from his retirement benefits.
InAquino-Simbulan v. Bartolome, the presiding judge and the clerk of court (retired) were found guilty of gross negligence. Both were meted a fine in the amount of Forty Thousand Pesos (P40,000.00), to be deducted from their retirement benefits.
InHeirs of Spouses Jose and Concepcion Olorga v. Beldia, Jr., respondent judge was found liable for simple misconduct for his violation of Canons 1, 11, and 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He was meted a fine of Fifteen Thousand Pesos (P15,000.00).
InAndres v. Majaducon, respondent judge was held liable for abuse of authority and was fined Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00).
InPastor C. Pinlac v. Oscar T. Llamas,Cash Clerk II, Regional Trial Court, Office of the Clerk of Court, San Carlos City, Pangasinan, then Cash Clerk II of the RTC was found guilty of grave misconduct and was accordingly meted a fine ofP20,000.00.
Considering the circumstances attendant to this case, and in the spirit of compassion, we resolve to lower the penalty imposed on respondent Joaquino based on the recent pronouncements of the Court. A penalty ofa fine of TEN THOUSAND PESOS (P10,000.00) is reasonable, considering the fact that he simply issued the writ of execution based on the March 6, 2008 Orderof the RTC
PETITION GRANTED.

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