In her Memorandum dated June 29, 2001, Atty. Eden T. Candelaria, Deputy Clerk of Court and Chief Administrative Officer of this Court, recommended the imposition of administrative penalties upon the twenty-four (24) employees of this Court who committed habitual tardiness during the second semester of the year 2000. Her recommendation is pursuant to Civil Service Commission (CSC) Memorandum Circular No. 4, Series of 1991 1 and CSC Memorandum Circular No. 19, Series of 1999. 2
On February 20, 2001, 3 the Leave Division submitted the list of employees who incurred habitual tardiness for the second semester of the year 2000. Atty. Candelaria then required those employees to explain within five days from notice why no disciplinary action should be taken against them. The following are the names of the employees and their respective explanations:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
1. FE MALOU B. CASTELO, Court Stenographer II, Office of the Clerk of Court, En Banc — She incurred tardiness 10 times each in August and October. She explained that her tardiness was due to her severe sore throat constantly accompanied by fever. She was advised to undergo tonsillectomy but it was only on December 14, 2000 that she was operated due to financial constraints. She attached Medical Certificates in support of her explanation.
2. MERCEDITA B. COSTALES, Court Secretary I, Second Division — Was late for work 13 times in July and 15 times in August. She attributed her tardiness to her insomnia.
3. NORA B. ANG, Court Stenographer, Office of the Clerk of Court, First Division — She was tardy 12 times in July, 14 times in October, and 16 times in December. She explained that she was then undergoing treatment and physical therapy on her left shoulder and was in her menopausal stage. Thus, she has been suffering pain, weakness and difficulty in moving, especially during December because of the cold weather. Moreover, the distance between her home and the office and the heavy traffic likewise caused her tardiness.
4. WILFREDO FLORENDO, Utility Worker II, Office of the Clerk of Court, Second Division — He incurred habitual tardiness 12 times in July and 10 times in August. He did not submit any explanation despite notice to do so.
5. LOURDES LORICO, Clerk II, Collection and Disbursement, FMBO — She was late 11 times in July, 18 times in August, 12 times in September, and 11 times in November. She explained that she lives in Antipolo, Rizal and that it takes 2 to 3 hours to reach the office due to traffic congestion. Furthermore, she has to attend to her four children before reporting for work.
6. ERNESTO D. SASIS, JR., Engineering Assistant, Maintenance Division, Halls of Justice — Was late 12 times in July and 10 times in September. He resides in San Jose, Del Monte and it takes a minimum of 2-1/2 hours to reach the office. He mentioned that during rainy season, travel time would even be 5 hours.
7. JUAN FRANCISCO BORJA, Engineering Aide (casual), Halls of Justice — He incurred tardiness 18 times in July and 12 times in August. He explained that his maid left, hence, he had to bring his daughter to school every morning.
8. ALBERT SEMILLA, Clerk III, Office of the Court Attorney — Was late 11 times in July and 10 times in September. He claimed that he incurred tardiness because, aside from the congested traffic in Metro Manila, he has been attending to his mother who suffered a mild stroke and has been undergoing dialysis twice a week.
9. NEWTON ILAGAN, Administrative Assistant, Maintenance and General Services Division, OAS — He was habitually tardy 13 times in June, 14 times in July, and 10 times in August. He explained that his personal problems caused his tardiness.
10. ROMMEL JUPIA, Utility Worker II (casual), Office of the Clerk of Court, First Division — Was tardy 10 times in September, 12 times in October, 10 times each in November and December. He alleged that it took him 3 hours going to the office.
11. EUTIQUIA RAMIREZ, Utility Worker II, Accounting Division — She was late 10 times each in July and August. According to her she attended to the needs of her cousin who suffered a relapse after giving birth by caesarian operation. Due to lack of sleep, she (Ramirez) developed anemia making it difficult for her to report for work on time.
12. RICARDO PAMINTUAN, Court Attorney VI, Office of the Chief Justice — He incurred tardiness 13 times in July and 11 times in December. He explained that these months immediately preceded his official training course abroad for which he had to make numerous preparations. He had to (1) coordinate with NEDA regarding the requisites of his scholarship; (2) submit himself to the required medical/physical examination; (3) file the necessary documents with NEDA; (4) write his country report and submit it to NEDA and JICA; (5) appear at NEDA for the panel interview; (6) report to JICA for interviews and briefing; (7) secure Japanese travel visa; and (8) write and submit a post training report to NEDA, JICA and the Chief Justice. Likewise, the nature of his job and his responsibilities as a court lawyer and as a project officer constrained him to work at home, even until the wee hours of the morning.
13. LEO PAGSANJAN, Executive Assistant II, Office of Justice Jose R. Melo — He was habitually tardy 15 times in June and 12 times in July. He stated that he incurred tardiness during these months because his brother, who was hooked on drugs, exhibited strange behavior that required his immediate attention. Also, he lives in Calumpit, Bulacan, which is approximately 50 kilometers away from the office. Besides, there were several transport strikes and typhoons those days.
14. MA. ANA CABANGUNAY, Utility Worker II, Office of the Clerk of Court, Third Division — Was habitually tardy 11 times in June and 15 times in July. She said she was attending school and doing her assignments and projects. Due to fatigue and sometimes headaches, she found it hard to wake up early.
15. ROSEMARIE RECINTO, Professor II, Office of the Reporter — She was tardy 10 times in August and December. She explained that her place along España Street in Sampaloc, Manila was flooded in August. In December, she had to spend most of her time to discuss financial and family problems with her siblings and parents. Likewise, she had been experiencing frequent attacks of asthma.
16. ROBERTO HOMERES, Utility Worker II, Accounting Division, FMBO — He incurred tardiness 10 times each in August and December. He claimed that sometime in August, his son suffered from chicken pox, thus, he had to make sure that his son took his medicine every morning. Because of the cold weather in December, his son who was then enrolled at the Philippine Normal University, had difficulty in waking up. This was compounded by the heavy traffic during the Christmas season.
17. ROMEO AGUDELO, Reproduction Machine Operator III, Personnel Division, Office of the Administrative Services (OAS) — He was habitually tardy 12 times in July, and 10 times each in August and September. He explained that he lives in Dasmariñas, Cavite where transportation involved a series of transfer from one vehicle to another before reaching this Court. During those times, he encountered difficulties in taking a ride. Moreover, there was heavy traffic along the way due to the on-going government road constructions and improvements.
18. FREDERICK AGUILAR, Clerk III, Personnel Division, OAS — He was late 11 times in October and 14 times in December. He explained that he suffered asthma attacks in October which caused him sleepless nights. For his tardiness in December, he claimed that he suffered stress due to the numerous activities during the Christmas season and the preparation for the renewal of appointments of casual employees.
19. CARLITO CURITANA, Utility Worker II, Maintenance Division, OAS — He incurred tardiness 10 times in June and 11 times in July. He explained there was daily traffic congestion in his area at Sta. Mesa, Manila.
20. OMAR FARRALES, Clerk III, Property Division, OAS — He reported late for work 10 times each September and October. He explained that he relocated in Dasmariñas, Cavite and this entailed adjustments to his new place. Aside from this, there was traffic congestion.
21. SHIRLEY MAY SANTOS, Clerk III, Property Division, OAS — She was habitually tardy 12 times each in October and November. She explained that her tardiness was due to nausea which constrained her to stay in bed until she was relieved.
22. LADISLAO DEL ROSARIO, Fiscal Clerk I, Financial Services Division, FMBO — He incurred tardiness 11 times each in September and October, and 12 times in December. He stated that he resides in Molino, Bacoor, Cavite, and that his daily travel then was affected by the heavy traffic brought about by the on-going road repairs.
23. RENATO LABAY, Utility Worker II, Medical Division, Medical and Dental Services — He incurred habitual tardiness 12 times in August, 14 times in November and 10 times in December. He explained that his tardiness was caused by the destruction of the bridge along his route that resulted in heavy traffic. Moreover, he had to do household chores for his wife who underwent surgery.
24. JASMIN CELOCIA, Utility Worker II, Printing Services — She incurred tardiness 11 times in June and 10 times in July. She explained that she is a single parent with 2 kids, aged 2 and 1. As such, she had to wait every morning for her mother who would take care of them.
In the same Memorandum, Atty. Candelaria reported that in the past (1999 and 2000), Castelo, Costales, Ang, Florendo and Lorico incurred habitual tardiness and were meted the penalties of reprimand and suspension from the service.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
Likewise, Sasis, Semilla and Borja were previously reprimanded, while Ramirez, Ilagan and Jupia were sternly warned for habitual tardiness in the first semester of 2001.
In her Memorandum, Atty. Candelaria recommended that:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"A. The following employees who have committed habitual tardiness for the third time be SUSPENDED FOR THREE (3) MONTHS WITHOUT PAY WITH A FINAL WARNING that a repetition of similar offense in the future will be dealt with more severely.
1. Fe Malou B. Castelo, Court Stenographer II, Office of the Clerk of Court, En Banc;
2. Mercedita B. Costales, Court Secretary I, Office of the Clerk of Court, Second Division;
3. Nora B. Ang, Court Stenographer IV, Office of the Clerk of Court, En Banc;
4. Wilfredo Florendo, Utility Worker II, Office of the Clerk of Court, Second Division;
5. Lourdes Lorico, Clerk II (Casual), Collection and Disbursement Division, FMBO
"B. The following employees, who were reprimanded for having incurred tardiness of four months and more on their first offense, be SUSPENDED without pay effective upon receipt of the resolution for the number of days opposite their names:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
1. Ernesto D. Sasis, HOJ — five (5) days
2. Albert Semilla, OCAT — five (5) days
3. Juan Francisco Borja, HOJ (Casual) — five (5) days
"C. The following employees, who were sternly warned for having incurred tardiness of two or three months on their first offense, be REPRIMANDED with a warning that a repetition of the same act will be dealt with more severely:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
1. Eutiquia Ramirez, Accounting, FMBO
2. Newton Ilagan, Maintenance, OAS
3. Rommel Jupia, Utility Worker (Casual), Office of the Clerk of Court, First Division
"D. The following employees be STERNLY WARNED:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
1. Ricardo Pamintuan, OCJ
2. Leo Pagsanjan, Office of Justice Melo
3. Rosemarie Recinto, Office of the Reporter
4. Roberto Homeres, Accounting, FMBO
5. Romeo Agudelo, Personnel, OAS
6. Frederick Aguilar, Personnel, OAS
7. Carlito Curitana, OAS, detailed CMO, OCA
8. Omar Farrales, Property, OAS
9. Shirley May Santos, Property, OAS
10. Ladislao del Rosario, Financial Services, FMBO
11. Renato Labay, SC Medical Clinic
12. Ma. Ana Cabangunay, OCC, Third Division (Casual)
13. Jasmin Celocia, Printing Service (Casual)" 4
We affirm the recommendation of Atty. Candelaria.
CSC Memorandum Circular No. 4, Series of 1991 states:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"An employee shall be considered habitually tardy if he incurs tardiness, regardless of the number of minutes, ten (10) times a month for at least two (2) months in a semester or at least two (2) consecutive months during the year."cralaw virtua1aw library
CSC Memorandum Circular No. 19 Series of 1999 amended CSC Memorandum Circular No. 4 and provided for the following penalties for habitual tardiness:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"First Offense — Reprimand
Second Offense — Suspension for 1-30 days
Third Offense — Dismissal."cralaw virtua1aw library
It is clear that the above-named employees committed habitual tardiness. Their explanations failed to justify their tardiness and exemption from the imposition of the penalties provided in CSC Memorandum Circular No. 19.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary
In the case of Castelo, Costales, Ang, Florendo and Lorico, this is the third time they committed the same offense of tardiness. Pursuant to CSC Memorandum Circular No. 19, they should be dismissed from the service. However, for humanitarian considerations, we find the penalty of suspension for three months without pay, as recommended by Atty. Candelaria, to be in order. Nevertheless, they are warned that this Court will dismiss them from the service should they commit the same offense in the future.
Moral obligations, performance of household chores, traffic problems and health, domestic and financial concerns are not sufficient reasons to excuse habitual tardiness, although these may be considered to mitigate administrative liability.
By their habitual tardiness, the herein employees have failed to live up to the standard of conduct set by this Court. Tardiness causes inefficiency and is prejudicial to public service. The need for strict observance of official time has been emphasized by this Court in Administrative Circular No. 1-99 (Enhancing the Dignity of Courts as Temples of Justice and Promoting Respect for their Officials and Employees) 5 and Administrative Circular No. 2-99 (Strict Observance of Working Hours and Disciplinary Action for Absenteeism and Tardiness) which respectively provide:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"x x x
"3. Strictly observe official time. As punctuality is a virtue, absenteeism and tardiness are impermissible."cralaw virtua1aw library
". . . Absenteeism and tardiness, even if such do not qualify as ‘habitual’ or ‘frequent’ under Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 4, Series of 1991, shall be dealt with severely . . .."cralaw virtua1aw library
In Belvis v. Fernandez, 6 this Court held:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
". . . There is no question that respondent is prejudicing public service with frequent absences and tardiness. His conduct certainly falls short of the standards prescribed by the Constitution for public officers and employees, to wit: ‘A public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.’"
Also, in Basco v. Gregorio, 7 this Court ruled:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"The exacting standards of ethics and morality imposed upon court employees and judges are reflective of the premium placed on the image of the court of justice, and that image is necessarily mirrored in the conduct, official or otherwise, of the men and women who work thereat. It thus becomes the imperative and sacred duty of everyone charged with the dispensation of justice, from the judge to the lowliest clerk, to maintain the court’s good name and standing as true temples of justice. Circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility, their conduct at all times must not only be characterized with propriety and decorum, but above all else, must be above suspicion. Indeed, every employee of the Judiciary should be an example of integrity, probity, uprightness, honesty and diligence. . . ." (Emphasis supplied
WHEREFORE, this Court ADOPTS the recommendation of Deputy Clerk of Court and Chief Administrative Officer Atty. Eden T. Candelaria, as follows:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library
a) Fe Malou B. Castelo, Mercedita B. Costales, Nora B. Ang, Wilfredo Florendo and Lourdes Lorico are SUSPENDED for three (3) months without pay for committing habitual tardiness for the third time, with a FINAL WARNING that a repetition of similar offense will be dealt with more severely;
b) Ernesto D. Sasis, Albert Semilla and Juan Francisco Borja, earlier reprimanded for their first offense, are SUSPENDED for five days without pay for committing habitual tardiness for the second time;
c) Eutiquia Ramirez, Newton Ilagan, Rommel Jupia, sternly warned for their first offense, are REPRIMANDED with a warning that a repetition of the same act will be dealt with more severely;
d) Ricardo Pamintuan, Leo Pasanjan, Rosemarie Recinto, Roberto Homeres, Romeo Agudelo, Frederick Aguilar, Carlito Curitana, Omar Farrales, Shirley May Santos, Ladislao del Rosario, Renato Labay, Ma. Ana Cabangunay, Jasmin Celocia are STERNLY WARNED, this being their first offense of habitual tardiness.
Bellosillo, Acting C.J.
, Vitug, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr. and Azcuna, JJ.
Davide, Jr., C.J.
, and Puno, J.
, abroad, on official business.
1. Policy on Absenteeism and Tardiness.
2. Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service.
3. Rollo, at 44-46.
4. Rollo, at 15-16.
5. Effective February 1, 1999.
6. 256 SCRA 455, 459 (1996).
7. 245 SCRA 614, 619 (1995).