A.M. No. 13-8-168-RTC, September 09, 2013

THIRD DIVISION

[ A.M. No. 13-8-168-RTC, September 09, 2013 ]

RE: DROPPING FROM THE ROLLS OF MR. LORD YSAAC F. SAPINOSO, CLERK III, BRANCH 21, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, IMUS, CAVITE.


Sirs/Mesdames:

Please take notice that the Court, Third Division, issued a Resolution dated September 9, 2013, which reads as follows:

"A.M. No. 13-8-168-RTC (Re: Dropping from the Rolls of Mr. Lord Ysaac F. Sapinoso, Clerk III, Branch 21, Regional Trial Court, Imus, Cavite).—Before the Court is an administrative matter against Lord Ysaac F. Sapinoso (Sapinoso), Clerk III, Branch 21, Regional Trial Court, Imus, Cavite.Records of the Office of the Employees' Leave Division (ELD), Office of Administrative Services (OAS), Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), disclose that Sapinoso has not submitted his bundy cards for the month of November 2011 up to the present.

On July 10, 2012, the ELD, OAS, OCA, sent a telegram to Presiding Judge Norberto J. Quisumbing, Jr. (Judge Quisumbing, Jr.) requesting him to instruct Sapinoso to submit his bundy cards, otherwise, his salaries would be withheld.[1]

A letter, dated July 19, 2012, coursed through Judge Quisumbing Jr. was also sent to Sapinoso reiterating the said directive for him to submit his bundy cards, with a warning that his failure to do so would result in the dropping of his name from the rolls. In a letter-reply, dated September 11, 2012, Judge Quisumbing, Jr. informed the OCA that he had contacted the relatives of Sapinoso and he learned from his mother that Sapinoso had been living in Canada with his wife and children, without immediate plans of returning to the Philippines. Consequently, Judge Quisumbing, Jr. requested that Sapinoso be dropped from the rolls due to his continuous absence without official leave (AWOL).[2]

To date, Sapinoso has not complied with any of the OCA's directives and he has not reported back to work. Thus, in its Memorandum, dated September 20, 2012, the OCA ordered the withholding of Sapinoso's salaries and benefits.

In its evaluation of the matter, the OCA submitted its Agenda Report dated July 19, 2013,[3] referring to Section 63, Rule XVI of the Omnibus Rules on Leave and recommending that Sapinoso's name be dropped from the rolls for being absent without leave. The OCA further recommended that Sapinoso's position be declared vacant and that he be notified at his residential address on record of his separation from the service or the dropping of his name from the rolls. The OCA Report also informed the Court that upon verification, Sapinoso had not filed any application for retirement and that no previous administrative complaint had been filed against him.

The Court agrees with the OCA's recommendation.

Pursuant to Section 63, Rule XVI of the Omnibus Rules on Leave, as amended by Civil Service Resolution No. 070631, an employee's absence without official leave for at least 30 working days warrants his separation from the service. The Rule specifically provides:

Sec. 63. Effect of absences without approved leave.-An official or employee who is continuously absent without approved leave for at least thirty (30) working days shall be considered on absence without official leave (AWOL) and shall be separated from the service or dropped from the rolls without prior notice. However, when it is clear under the obtaining circumstances that the official or employee concerned, has established a scheme to circumvent the rule by incurring substantial absences though less than thirty working (30) days 3x in a semester, such that a pattern is already apparent, dropping from the rolls without notice may likewise be justified.

If the number of unauthorized absences incurred is less than thirty (30) working days, a written Return-to-Work-Order shall be served to him at his last known address on record. Failure on his part to report for work within the period stated in the order shall be valid ground to drop him from the rolls.

In this connection, Section 63, Rule XVI, of the Omnibus Civil Service Rules and Regulations, as amended by Circular No. 14, s. 1999, provides:

Section 63. Effect of absences without approved leave. - An official or employee who is continuously absent without approved leave for at least thirty (30) calendar days shall be considered on absence without official leave (AWOL) and shall be separated from the service or dropped from the rolls without prior notice. He shall, however, be informed, at his address appearing on his 201 files, of his separation from the service, not later than five (5) days from its effectivity.

Every so often, it has been declared that any act which falls short of the exacting standards for public office, especially on the part of those expected to preserve the image of the judiciary, shall not be countenanced.[4] Public service requires integrity and discipline. For this reason, public servants must exhibit at all times the highest sense of honesty and dedication to duty. By the very nature of their duties and responsibilities, government employees must faithfully adhere to, hold sacred and render inviolate the constitutional principle that a public office is a public trust; that all public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency.[5]

By going on AWOL, Sapinoso grossly disregarded and neglected the duties of his office. He failed to adhere to the high standards of public accountability imposed on all those in government service.[6]

Specifically for court personnel, their conduct and behavior are circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility. This Court shall not tolerate any act or omission on the part of all those involved in the administration of justice which would violate the norm of public accountability and diminish or tend to diminish the faith of the people in the Judiciary.[7]

Under Section 2 (2.6), Rule XII of the Revised Omnibus Rules on Appointments and Other Personnel Actions, the dropping from the rolls as a mode of separation from service is "non-disciplinary in nature and shall not result in the forfeiture of any benefits on the part of the official or employee nor in disqualifying him from re-employment in the government."

Given the circumstances of the case, the Court is inclined to adhere to the evaluation and recommendation of the OCA, and refrain from imposing the administrative penalties of forfeiture of benefits and disqualification from re-employment.

WHEREFORE, the Court RESOLVES to:

1) ADOPT and APPROVE the findings of facts, conclusions of law and recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator;

2) DROP the name of Lord Ysaac F. Sapinoso, Clerk III, Branch 21, Regional Trial Court, Imus, Cavite, from the rolls effective November 2, 2011 for having been on absence without official leave (AWOL). He is, however, still qualified to receive any benefits he may be entitled to under existing laws, and he may still be reemployed in the government;

3) DECLARE his position VACANT; and

4) DIRECT the Office of the Court Administrator to SERVE a copy of this Resolution at the address appearing on his 201 File pursuant to Section 63, Rule XVI of the Omnibus Civil Service Rules and Regulations, as amended, and INFORM him of his separation from service.

SO ORDERED."

Very truly yours,

(Sgd.) LUCITA ABJELINA-SORIANO
Division Clerk of Court


[1] Rollo, p. 4.

[2] Id. at 5.

[3] Id. at 1-3.

[4] Re: Absence Without Official Leave (AWOL) of Antonio Macalintal, Process Server, Office of the Clerk of Court, A.M. No. 99-11-06-SC, 384 Phil. 314 (2000).

[5] Mirano v. Saavedra, A.M. No. P-89-383, August 4, 1993, 225 SCRA 77.

[6] Re: Absence Without Official Leave of Ms. Fernandita B. Borja, 549 Phil. 533 (2007).

[7] Re: Absence Without Official Leave of Mr. Basri A. Abbas, 520 Phil. 558 (2006)].

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