In the Know: Lowly court employee sacked over market stall not declared in SALN
MANILA, Philippines—In a 1997 en banc decision, the Supreme Court dismissed from service a court interpreter at the Regional Trial Court Branch IV in Panabo, Davao, for failing to disclose ownership of a stall in a public market in her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN).
The high court also forfeited Delsa Flores’ retirement benefits and accrued leave credits and barred her from reemployment in government, including in government-owned or -controlled corporations.
The case stemmed from a complaint of “conduct unbecoming a government employee, acts prejudicial to the interest of the service and abuse of authority” filed against Flores by Narita Rabe in August 1995.
In the complaint, Rabe alleged that Flores took advantage of her position as a court employee by claiming a stall in the extension of the public market.
The high court dismissed the complaint after Flores filed her response. But it ordered her to explain why she should not be administratively sanctioned for issues that cropped up in the case, such as her overlapping job terms in the municipal office and in the court, which resulted in her double compensation for the period May 16-31, 1991, as well as her failure to disclose her business interest in her SALN.
In her response, Flores admitted that she received compensation from the municipal government amounting to P1,000.80 despite the fact that she was already working for the court during the period.
She said that she had planned to refund the amount but forgot to do so, and that she immediately made the refund when her attention was called upon receiving a copy of the court’s resolution.
Flores also explained that she did not disclose any business interest in her SALN for the years 1991-1994 because she was never engaged in business although she had a stall in the market.
The high court referred the matter to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) for evaluation, report and recommendation.
The OCA subsequently found Flores guilty of dishonesty and of failure to report her business interest, and recommended her dismissal.
The high court agreed with the OCA’s findings and recommendation.
It said Flores’ failure “to disclose her business interest, which she herself admitted, is inexcusable and is a clear violation of Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).”
It added: “We have repeatedly held that although every office in the government service is a public trust, no position exacts a greater demand for moral righteousness and uprightness from an individual than in the judiciary.
“Personnel in the judiciary should conduct themselves in such a manner as to be beyond reproach and suspicion, and free from any appearance of impropriety in their personal behavior, not only in the discharge of their official duties but also in their everyday life. They are strictly mandated to maintain good moral character at all times and to observe irreproachable behavior so as not to outrage public decency.”—Lawrence de Guzman, Inquirer Research
Sources: Inquirer Archives; Lawphil.net
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