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A.M. No. P-12-3090 (Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 11-3662-P) : January 07, 2013 - MARIANO T. ONG, COMPLAINANT, VS. EVA G. BASIYA-SARATAN, CLERK OF COURT, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, ILOILO CITY, BRANCH 32, RESPONDENT.

A.M. No. P-12-3090 (Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 11-3662-P) : January 07, 2013 - MARIANO T. ONG, COMPLAINANT, VS. EVA G. BASIYA-SARATAN, CLERK OF COURT, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, ILOILO CITY, BRANCH 32, RESPONDENT.

PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

SECOND DIVISION

[A.M. No. P-12-3090 (Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 11-3662-P), January 07, 2013]

MARIANO T. ONG, COMPLAINANT, VS. EVA G. BASIYA-SARATAN, CLERK OF COURT, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, ILOILO CITY, BRANCH 32, RESPONDENT.

R E S O L U T I O N

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

On June 13, 2011, Mariano T. Ong (complainant) filed a verified letter-complaint1Ï‚rνl1 before the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), charging Clerk of Court Eva G. Basiya-Saratan (respondent) of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Iloilo City, Branch 32 for inefficiency and/or negligence in the performance of her official duties.   Complainant averred that respondent repeatedly failed to issue Alias Writs of Execution for almost three (3) years from the time she was first directed to do so by the RTC in its Order2Ï‚rνl1 dated September 26, 2008 in Civil Case No. 18978.cralawlibrary

The Facts

Complainant is one of the defendants/judgment obligees in the Decision   dated   June 21, 1999   rendered in   the aforementioned   case,3Ï‚rνl1 in the   amount   of   P800,000.00 representing   damages   and   attorney's   fees.   To implement the judgment, the RTC issued the Order dated April 24, 2006 granting the issuance of the writ of execution.   Since the judgment has remained unsatisfied, complainant moved for the issuance of an Alias Writ of Execution, which was granted by the RTC in its Order dated September 26, 2008, with a further directive to the Sheriff of the RTC of Valenzuela City, Branch 72 to proceed against plaintiff's attachment bond issued by Prudential Guarantee and Assurance, Inc.4Ï‚rνl1

On November 26, 2010 or after the lapse of more than two (2) years with no action on the part of respondent, the RTC again directed the issuance of an Alias Writ of Execution and its implementation by Sheriff Romero L. Rivera (Sheriff Rivera).5Ï‚rνl1   Notwithstanding, respondent did not issue any, prompting complainant to file a "Very Urgent Motion to Be Furnished Certified True Copy of Alias Writ of Execution,”6Ï‚rνl1 which the RTC granted in its Order dated January 14, 2011.7Ï‚rνl1

On February 7, 2011, complainant filed a Manifestation and Motion,8Ï‚rνl1 followed by a subsequent urgent motion9Ï‚rνl1 dated April 27, 2011, seeking to compel respondent to comply with the court's directive.   He also averred that on February 1, 2011, he received an unsigned and uncertified copy of the Alias Amended Writ of   Execution10Ï‚rνl1 dated   June 7, 2007,   addressed   to   "The Provincial   Sheriff of Iloilo or any of his Lawful Deputies" and not to Sheriff Rivera, the deputized sheriff.cralawlibrary

On August 15, 2011, the RTC issued an Amended Order11Ï‚rνl1 enjoining respondent to issue a certified true copy of the Amended Writ of Execution to complainant and to Sheriff Rivera.   But up to the filing of the instant administrative complaint, no action has been taken by respondent.cralawlibrary

The Action and Recommendation of the OCA

In the 1stÏ‚rνl1 Indorsement12Ï‚rνl1 dated June 17, 2011, the OCA required respondent to file her comment to the complaint which was reiterated in the 1stÏ‚rνl1 Tracer13Ï‚rνl1 dated October 25, 2011.   However, no comment was submitted.cralawlibrary

Upon evaluation of the complaint, the OCA found respondent to have been remiss in the performance of her duties as Clerk of Court of the RTC of Iloilo City, Branch 32, in violation of Section 1, Canon IV of the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel, underscoring her failure to issue the corresponding Alias Writs of Execution as directed by the RTC as well as her failure to comment on the allegations of the complainant.   The OCA also noted that this is not the first time respondent had failed to perform her official functions.   In another complaint filed against her by Atty. Raul A. Muyco,14Ï‚rνl1 she was reprimanded by the Court for her failure to issue on time a certification requested by the complainant, and sternly warned that the commission of similar acts would be dealt with more severely.   Accordingly, the OCA, applying Rule IV of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service,15Ï‚rνl1 recommended her suspension from the service for six (6) months and one (1) day without pay, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or any similar act will warrant a more severe penalty.cralawlibrary

The Issue

The sole issue before the Court is whether respondent should be imposed the penalty as recommended by the OCA for her repeated failure to issue the corresponding alias writs of execution despite directives from the RTC.cralawlibrary

The Court's Ruling

The Court finds the recommendation of the OCA to be well-taken.cralawlibrary

Section 1, Canon IV of the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel16Ï‚rνl1 enjoins court personnel to perform their official duties properly and with diligence at all times.   Clerks of Court like respondent are primarily responsible for the speedy and efficient service of all court processes and writs. Hence, they cannot be allowed to slacken on their work since they are charged with the duty of keeping the records and the seal of the court, issuing processes, entering judgments and orders, and giving certified copies of records upon request.   As such, they are expected to possess a high degree of discipline and efficiency in the performance of their functions to help ensure that the cause of justice is done without delay.17Ï‚rνl1

As an officer of the court, respondent was duty-bound to use reasonable skill and diligence in the performance of her officially-designated duties as clerk of court,18Ï‚rνl1 failing which, warrants the imposition of administrative sanctions.   In this case, respondent unjustifiably failed to issue the alias writs of execution to implement the judgment in Civil Case No. 18978 despite orders from the RTC.   Moreover, she failed to file the required comment in disregard of the duty of every employee in the judiciary to obey the orders and processes of the Court without delay.   Such act evinces lack of interest in clearing her name, constituting an implied admission of the charges.19Ï‚rνl1

Consequently, the Court finds her guilty of refusal to perform official duty classified as a grave offense under Section 52(A)(18) of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, punishable with suspension of six (6) months and one (1) day to one (1) year for the first offense and by dismissal for the second offense.cralawlibrary

WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent ATTY. EVA G. BASIYA-SARATAN GUILTY of refusal to perform official duty and accordingly, SUSPENDS her from office for six (6) months and one (1) day without pay effective immediately upon receipt of this resolution.   She is STERNLY WARNED once again that a commission of the same or similar offense in the future shall be dealt with more severely.cralawlibrary

Let a copy of this resolution be attached to the personal records of respondent in the Office of Administrative Services, Office of the Court Administrator.cralawlibrary

SO ORDERED.

Carpio, (Chairperson), Brion, Del Castillo, and Perez, JJ., concur.cralawlibrary

Endnotes:


1ςrνl1 Rollo, pp. 1-6.cralawlibrary

2ςrνl1 Id. at 7. Penned by Presiding Judge Globert J. Justalero.cralawlibrary

3ςrνl1 A case for specific performance and damages filed by ARMCO Industrial Corp. against complainant Mario T. Ong, among others.cralawlibrary

4ςrνl1 Pursuant to Rule 57, Section 19 of the Rules of Court.cralawlibrary

5ςrνl1 Rollo, p. 8.cralawlibrary

6ςrνl1 Id. at 9-10.cralawlibrary

7ςrνl1 Id. at 11.cralawlibrary

8ςrνl1 Id. at 12-14.cralawlibrary

9ςrνl1 Id. at 15-17.cralawlibrary

10ςrνl1 Id. at 19-21.cralawlibrary

11ςrνl1 Id. at 26-27.cralawlibrary

12ςrνl1 Id. at 23.cralawlibrary

13ςrνl1 Id. at 28.cralawlibrary

14ςrνl1 Muyco v. Saratan, A.M. No. P-03-1761, April 2, 2004, 427 SCRA 1.cralawlibrary

15ςrνl1 Resolution No. 99-1936 dated August 31, 1999.cralawlibrary

16ςrνl1 A.M. No. 03-06-13-SC issued on June 4, 2004.cralawlibrary

17Ï‚rνl1 Escobar Vda. de Lopez v. Luna, A.M. No. P-04-1786,   February 13, 2006, 482 SCRA 265, 273.cralawlibrary

18ςrνl1 Panaligan v. Valente, A.M. No. P-11-2952, July 30, 2012.cralawlibrary

19Ï‚rνl1   Re: Criminal Case No. MC-02-5637 Against Arturo V. Peralta and Larry C. De Guzman, Employees of MeTC, Br. 31, Q.C., A.M. No. 02-8-198-MeTC, June 8, 2005, 459 SCRA 278, 285.
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