Case Digest: NPC v. Olandesca G.R. No. 171434 : April 23, 2010




RespondentAlan A. Olandescawas first employed by petitioner as an Extension Aide and was assigned at the Tiwi Watershed. Thereafter, he held various positions in petitioner's corporation. At the time of the alleged commission of acts of dishonesty, respondent held the position of Supervising Property Officer of the Angat River Hydroelectric Plant (HEP),San Lorenzo, Norzagaray, Bulacan. As Supervising Property Officer, respondent had custody of all the materials and supplies stored at the property office of Angat River HEP and was accountable for those properties which were turned over to him under his Property Accountability Report. In addition, respondent was also tasked to monitor the proper documentation of the receipt and release of all items, materials, and supplies in his custody. It was petitioners policy that the receipt and release of any item from the property office be covered by a Warehouse Requisition Slip (WRS) and duly approved by higher authorities. On several occasions, from November 17, 1996 to January 25, 1997, respondent withdrew several items from the warehouse/property office, without the required WRS. Among these items were barbed wires, interlink wires, nails, and G.I. wires. On three occasions, respondent transported the items during nighttime. On some occasions, he even used the petitioner's corporate vehicle to transport the materials he took from the property office. Respondent even used an outsider to withdraw interlink wires from the warehouse. Upon respondent's directive, all items he withdrew from the property office were duly recorded on the security logbook of the security guard on duty.Thereafter, respondent used the foregoing items to fence two (2) development areas which are part of the NPC Angat Watershed Areas and Reservations. On January 28, 1997, three days after the last withdrawal, respondent replaced all the said items he took at his own initiative. Teodulo V. Largo, Section Chief of the Angat River HEP, filed with the Officer-In-Charge of the Angat River HEP a Complaint against respondent for acts inimical to the government and for violation of Article VI, Section 3(f) and 3.15 of the NPC Code of Conduct and Discipline.He charged respondent with grave misconduct, and alleged that respondent maliciously withdrew several materials and supplies from the Angat River HEP warehouse without the approved WRS from the Angat HEP Management. After evaluating the complaint, Lino S. Cruz, petitioners Vice-President from the Northern Luzon Regional Center, administratively charged respondent with Acts of Dishonesty/Getting Supplies, Materials for Personal Use/Acts Prejudicial to the Interest of the Corporation (Administrative Case No. 97-20).Petitioner's Regional Board of Inquiry and Discipline (RBID) heard the case. Thereafter, the RBID issued its findings and recommended that respondent suffer the penalty of dismissal with forfeiture of all cash and non-cash benefits due him by virtue of his employment. The recommendation was adopted by the Vice-President of the Northern Luzon Regional Center (NLRC) and petitioners President. Respondent moved for the reconsideration of the decision, but the Board denied his motion. His appeal to the Civil Service Commission (CSC) was also denied. Aggrieved, respondent filed a petition for review with the Court of Appeals (CA).The CA granted the petition and ordered respondents reinstatement.

ISSUE: Whether or not respondent should be reinstated.

HELD: Court of Appeals decision is affirmed with modification.

POLITICAL LAW: administrative case of dishonesty

Dishonesty is defined as the disposition to lie, cheat, deceive, or defraud; untrustworthiness; lack of integrity; lack of honesty, probity or integrity in principle; lack of fairness and straightforwardness; disposition to defraud, deceive or betray. It is not disputed that respondent took several materials and supplies from petitioner's warehouse without the approved WRS.However, this should not be construed as dishonesty on the part of respondent that would warrant his dismissal from the service for the following reasons: First. The withdrawals of the supplies were duly recorded in the security guard's logbook.If respondent intended to defraud petitioner, he could have easily taken items from the warehouse without having them recorded as he was then the Supervising Property Officer who had free access to the supplies.Allowing the recording to be done in the logbook indicates his lack of intent to deceive or defraud petitioner. Any person who intends to deceive or commit any misdeed certainly would not want to leave any trace of his unlawful act. On the contrary, one would do everything necessary to conceal the subject of his wrongful act.Second.Right after withdrawing the items, respondent replaced them on his own initiative, without anyone instructing him to do so.This act negates his intent to defraud petitioner. Records show that when the issue of withdrawal of the items was raised in the management team meeting, the team considered the case against him as closed and terminated when it learned that the items had been replaced. This would show that per the management team's initial assessment, the taking was not so grave so as to warrant further investigation or the imposition of any sanction against the respondent. Third.There is no clear showing that respondent misappropriated or converted the items for his own personal use or benefit.Records show that in a Memorandum dated October 8, 1998 to Federico E. Puno, President of petitioner, Atty. Lamberto P. Melencio, Officer-in-Charge of the Office of the Vice-President, General Counsel, acting on respondents Petition for Reconsideration, found that no dishonesty was committed but only violation of reasonable office rules and regulations because the withdrawal of supplies was not covered by the approved WRS, and recommended that petitioners Decision be reconsidered and set aside and, considering that this was his first offense, he should be meted only the penalty of reprimand, instead of dismissal from the service. Atty. Melencio even appended a draft of the letter to be sent to respondent, which would adopt and approve his recommendation of merely reprimanding respondent. From the foregoing, it can be gleaned that early on, even the Office of the General Counsel of petitioner found the penalty of dismissal to be inappropriate.Fourth.Morevoer, the Graft Investigation Officer of the Office of the Ombudsman, in its Resolution dated February 5, 1999, in OMB-1-98-2011, dismissed a complaint for qualified theft filed by Teodulo V. Largo, Section Chief, Power Generation Group of petitioner against respondentas there was no competent and sufficient evidence on record to show that there was intent to gain on the part of the respondent, considering that the materials and supplies taken by him were used in fencing the watershed and reservation area of petitioner.Likewise, there was no basis to charge him for malversation of public property as there was no misappropriation of the supplies for his personal use and that the same were for general purpose and not for any specific use.The said Resolution stated thatthere was no competent and sufficient evidence on record to show that respondent used the materials for his benefit.It also found that respondent acted in good faith and there was no undue injury to petitioner as the materials and supplies were used in the petitioner's premises.Thus, the company itself benefited from the conduct of the respondent.

Nonetheless, although the respondent did not commit an overt act of dishonesty, he is not exonerated from liability.It was an established company procedure that before the materials can be taken out from the warehouse, the issuance of a WRS is an indispensable requirement. Respondents paramount duty was to protect the properties in the warehouse and to ensure that none shall be taken away without proper documentation. Since this is the first offense of respondent in his more than 16 years of service, the appropriate penalty to be imposed against him is reprimand.

Respondent Alan A. Olandesca is found guilty of violation of a reasonable office rule and regulation and is REPRIMANDED.