Case Digest: Office of the Court Administrator v. Saddi

A.M. No. P-10-2818 : November 15, 2010

OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR,Complainant, v. GREGORIO B. SADDI, Clerk of Court, MTC, Sasmuan, Pampanga, Respondent.

VILLARAMA, JR., J.:


FACTS:

This administrative matter stemmed from a financial audit conducted by the Court Management Office which discovered shortage for the periods of accountability of Clerk of Court Gregorio B. Saddi.

The audit team further reported that Saddi did not prepare and submit monthly financial reports of his collections to the Court in violation ofOCA Circular No. 113-2004.Thus, the audit team recommended that Saddi be held liable for gross neglect of duties, dishonesty as an accountable officer in charge of collecting money belonging to the court, and for violatingSC Administrative Circular No. 5-93,as amended byAdministrative Circular No. 3-2000, andSC Circular No. 50-95.

Further, the audit team called the Court Administrators attention to an earlier administrative case involving Saddi for having been absent without official leave (AWOL). The Court later granted Saddis motion for reconsideration and resolved, instead, to suspend him for two months for absenteeism with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt with more severely.

Despite the Courts warning, however, Saddi incurred further absences without official leave. Hence, Judge Yulo-Antero recommended that Saddi be dropped from the rolls.

Upon the foregoing facts, the audit team recommended among others, that Mr. Gregorio B. Saddi beDISMISSEDfrom the service for gross dishonesty, gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct.

Court Administrator adopted in totoas the OCAs recommendation, the recommendations of the audit team.

ISSUE: Whether or not Saddi is administratively liable as charged?

HELD: OCAs findings and recommendation is sustained.

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: administrative complaints; court personnel

Clerks of court, as the chief administrative officers of their respective courts, must act with competence, honesty and probity in accordance with their duty of safeguarding the integrity of the court and its proceedings. They are judicial officers entrusted to perform delicate functions with regard to the collection of legal fees, and as such, are expected to implement regulations correctly and effectively. As custodians of court funds, they are constantly reminded to deposit immediately the funds which they receive in their official capacity to the authorized government depositories for they are not supposed to keep such funds in their custody.

In particular, SC Administrative Circular No. 3-2000 provides for the duty of the clerk of court to receive JDF collections in their respective courts, issue the proper receipt therefor and maintain a separate cash book properly marked as "CASH BOOK FOR JUDICIARY DEVELOPMENT FUND." The clerk of court shall deposit such collections every day and render the proper Monthly Report of Collections and Deposits for said Fund within 10 days after the end of every month.

Saddis act of issuing a handwritten receipt for the payment of the execution fee did not satisfy the requirement of SC Circular No. 26-97 for a clerk of court to issue official receipts promptly for all monies received by him. The circular specifically provides for the form which said official receipts may take, that is, either in the form of stamps or officially numbered receipts never handwritten. Moreover, there is no indication that Saddi properly accounted for, remitted and reported such payment under the JDF Account.

By these deplorable acts of gross dishonesty, grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty, Saddi has, no doubt, undermined the peoples faith in the courts and, ultimately, in the administration of justice. Dishonesty alone, being in the nature of a grave offense, carries the extreme penalty of dismissal from the service with forfeiture of retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits, and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service. Dishonesty has no place in the Judiciary. Gross neglect of duty and grave misconduct, likewise, carry the same penalty.

Petition for review on certiorari is DENIED.

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