Administrative penalty for absence without approved leave (AWOL)

Section 107(a-l), Rule 20 of the 2017 RACCS[1] states:
Section 107. Grounds and Procedure for Dropping from the Rolls. - Officers and employees who are absent without approved leave, have unsatisfactory performance, or have shown to be physically or mentally unfit to perform their duties may be dropped from the rolls within thirty (30) days from the time a ground therefore arises subject to the following procedures:
a. Absence Without Approved Leave

1. An official or employee who is continuously absent without official leave (AWOL) for at least thirty (30) working days may be dropped from the rolls without prior notice which shall take effect immediately.

He/she shall, however, have the right to appeal his/her separation within fifteen (15) days from receipt of the notice of separation which must be sent to his/her last known address.
The above provision does not require prior notice to drop from the rolls the name of the employee who has been continuously absent without approved leave for at least 30 days.

In the case of Re: Dropping from the Rolls of Mary Claire C. Mendoza (A.M. No. 19-08-41-MTCC, October 07, 2019), the High Court said Mendoza should have been separated from the service or dropped from the rolls in view of her continued absence since November 2, 2018. She was DROPPED from the rolls effective November 2, 2018 and her position was declared VACANT. She is, however, still qualified to receive the benefits she may be entitled to under existing laws and may still be reemployed in the government.

Indeed, prolonged unauthorized absence causes inefficiency in the public service.[2] A court employee's continued absence without leave disrupts the normal functions of the court.[3] It contravenes the duty of a public servant to serve with the utmost degree of responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency. The Court stresses that a court personnel's conduct is laden with the heavy responsibility of upholding public accountability and maintaining the people's faith in the Judiciary.[4]

The Supreme Court said that it was undeniable that Mendoza failed to adhere to the high standards of public accountability imposed on all those in the government service. In view of the foregoing, the Court was constrained to drop Mendoza from the rolls.

[1] The 2017 RACCS took effect on August 17, 2017.

[2] Re: Dropping from the Rolls of Rowie A. Quimno, 808 Phil. 557, 560 (2017).

[3] Re: AWOL of Ms. Borja, 549 Phil. 533, 536 (2007).

[4] See Re: Dropping from the Rolls of Ms. Janice C. Millare, Clerk III, Office of the Clerk of Court, Metropolitan Trial Court, Quezon City, A.M. No. 17-11-131-MeTC, February 7, 2018; and Re: Dropping from the Rolls of Rowie A. Quimno, supra note 7. See also Court Second Division's Resolutions of Re: Absence without official leave (AWOL) of Fajardo, A.M. No. 2016-15(A)-SC, August 1, 2016; and Dropping from the Rolls of Mary Grace Bouchard, A.M. No. 15-11-349-RTC, January 11, 2016.