[A.M. No. P-12-3099, January 15, 2013]
OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, Complainant, v. LARRIZA P. BACANI, CLERK OF COURT IV, MUNICIPAL TRIAL COURT IN CITIES, MEYCAUAYAN, BULACAN, Respondents.
R E S O L U T I O N
During the preliminary cash count, the total cash on hand was only P12,441.50 when it should have been P23,507.00. Thus, there was a cash shortage of P11,065.50. As the Officer-in-Charge at that time, Villafuerte was asked to explain in writing the cash shortage. On 16, 18 and 19 January 2012, Villafuerte made piece-meal restitutions totalling P23,507.00.
Upon inventory of used and unused official receipts, two unused booklets of official receipts, with series numbers 6242001-6242050 and 8839451-8839500, were unaccounted.
On the Fiduciary Fund (FF), the audit team found a shortage of P2,000.00 due to double withdrawal on 5 September 2001 and 21 November 2002 of the cash bond posted for Criminal Case No. 2000-775 under O.R. No. 9890088. Furthermore, a High Yield Savings Account (HYSA) existed containing FF collections, contrary to OCA Circular No. 23-2009.3 Upon instruction from the audit team, Bacani closed the HYSA with an amount of P2,959,576.09 and transferred the same to the existing FF account on 2 February 2012.
On the Sheriff’s Trust Fund (STF), the audit team advised Bacani to withdraw the outstanding STF collections totalling P61,920.00 from the FF account and to open a new separate savings account for STF collections. On 8 February 2012, Bacani complied.
On the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF), Bacani incurred a shortage of P425.00 upon audit for the periods: September to December 1996, October to November 2004, and February 2005.
On the General Fund (Old), Bacani erroneously deposited P8,947.00 to this account which amount pertains to the Special Allowances for the Judiciary Fund (SAJF). Upon accounting, a shortage of P6.00 was noted.
On SAJF, Bacani incurred a final accountability of P1,385.20 due to the net result of her over deposit of P714.80 in November 2004 and under remittance of P2,100.00 in January and February 2005.
On the Mediation Fund (MF), the audit team found a shortage of P5,000.00 due to lack of deposit slips as proofs of remittances for the months of November and December 2004. Because Bacani failed to produce the deposit slips, she opted to deposit the amount on 24 February 2012.
The audit team further reported that the collections for the General Fund, JDF and SAJF were not deposited on time, causing a total of P5,161.73 unearned interest, to wit:
For the General Fund (Old):
Month/ Year Number of
June 2002 67 3,811 42.56 July 2002 63 8,215 86.26 August 2002 174 7,184 208.34 September 2002 173 6,610 190.59 October 2002 113 3,216 60.57 November 2002 86 2,452 35.15 December 2002 58 3,276 31.67 January 2003 41 5,570 38.06 February 2003 70 5,150 60.08 March 2003 50 5,144 42.87 April 2003 75 3,836 47.95 May 2003 87 4,574 66.32 June 2003 73 5,768 70.18 July 2003 117 3,932 76.67 August 2003 150 5,093 127.33 September 2003 120 7,724 154.48 October 2003 174 1,498 43.44 November 2003 144 545 13.08 TOTAL 83,598 1,395.58
For the JDF:
Month/ Year Number of days delayed Amount Unearned Interest June 2002 67 37,079 414.05 July 2002 63 41,581 436.60 August 2002 174 32,601 945.43 September 2002 144 36,815 883.56 October 2002 113 23,314 439.08 TOTAL 171,390 3,118.72
Month/ Year Number of days delayed Amount Unearned Interest January 2004 115 5,701 109.27 February 2004 121 6,265 126.34 March 2004 118 3,386 66.59 April 2004 90 1,682 25.23 May 2004 93 4,137 64.12 June 2004 63 2,773 29.12 July 2004 40 2,984 19.89 January 2005 136 9,126.40 206.87 TOTAL 36,054.40 647.43
Finally, the audit team observed that (a) there was poor filing system; (b) the prescribed Legal Fees Form was not used; (c) only one Legal Fees Form was used for a number of cases; (d) there was no certification at the end of each month; and (e) the form “original signed” for court orders was being used when refunding cash bonds, when the order should be manually signed by the Judge.
(1) this report be DOCKETED as a regular administrative matter against Ms. LARRIZA P. BACANI, Clerk of Court IV, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Meycauayan City, Bulacan, and she be FINED in the amount of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) for failure to deposit her collections on time thereby depriving the government of the supposed interest that should have been earned from such collections;
(2) Ms. LARRIZA P. BACANI, Clerk of Court IV, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Meycauayan City, Bulacan, be DIRECTED to:(2.a) PAY and DEPOSIT to the Judiciary Development Fund (JDF) the total amount of Five Thousand One Hundred Sixty One Pesos and 73/100 (P5,161.73), representing the interest earned, computed using the legal rate of six percent (6%) interest per annum, for not remitting the collections of the following funds on time, to wit:
FUND Total Delayed
Total Unearned Interest at 6%
JDF 171,390.00 3,118.72 GF 83,598.00 1,395.58 SAJF 36,054.40 647.43 TOTAL 291,042.40 5,161.73
(2.b) ACCOUNT for the missing official receipts issued by the Court to the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Meycauayan City, Bulacan, with series nos.(2.c) STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of any of the infractions committed [i.e. (a) not remitting the court’s collections on time that deprived the Court of the interest that should have been earned if the collections were deposited on time and (b) for not orderly safekeeping and safeguarding of (sic) the court’s files and records which resulted to the lost (sic) of some deposit slips and official receipts] shall be dealt with more severely;
(3) Mr. VEINER [P.] VILLAFUERTE, Cashier I, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Meycauayan City, Bulacan, be STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of not depositing the court’s collections on time, shall be dealt with more severely;
(4) Hon. CECILIA SANTOYO-TALAPIAN, Executive Judge, Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Meycauayan City, Bulacan, be DIRECTED to strictly MONITOR the financial transactions of the court and be REMINDED that she shall be held equally liable for the infractions committed by employees under her supervision. (Emphasis in the original)
Although dishonesty through falsification of DTRs is punishable by dismissal, such an extreme penalty cannot be inflicted on an errant employee such as herein respondent, especially so in cases where there exist mitigating circumstances which could alleviate her culpability. Respondent has been Branch Clerk of Court for about ten (10) years and this is her first administrative complaint. The OCA recommended that respondent be suspended from the service for one (1) year without pay, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely.
1 In Concerned Employees of the Municipal Trial Court of Meycauayan, Bulacan v. Paguio-Bacani, A.M. No. P-06-2217, 30 July 2009, 594 SCRA 242, Bacani was referred to as Larizza Paguio-Bacani.
2 Memorandum for Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez dated 3 October 2012.
3 “4. All existing time deposit and high-yielding savings accounts of the court for the fiduciary fund shall immediately be closed and only one savings account shall be maintained.”
4Office of the Court Administrator v. Elumbaring, A.M. No. P-10-2765, 13 September 2011, 657 SCRA 453, 462.
6Office of the Court Administrator v. Cruz, A.M. No. P-11-2988, 12 December 2011, 662 SCRA 8, 11, citing Report on the Financial Audit on the Books of Accounts of Mr. Delfin T. Polido, 518 Phil. 1 (2006).
7 3. Systems and Procedures. — x x x x
(c) In the RTC, MeTC, MTCC, MTC, MCTC, SDC and SCC. — The daily collections for the Fund in these courts shall be deposited everyday with the nearest LBP branch for the account of the Judiciary Development Fund, Supreme Court, Manila — SAVINGS ACCOUNT No. 0591-0116-34 or if depositing daily is not possible, deposits for the Fund shall be at the end of every month, provided, however, that whenever collections for the Fund reach P500.00, the same shall be deposited immediately even before the period above-indicated.
8Office of the Court Administrator v. Elumbaring, supra note 4, citing Office of the Court Administrator v. Caballero, A.M. No. P-05-2064, 2 March 2010, 614 SCRA 21.
9 A.M. No. 05-2-41-MTC, 508 Phil. 143 (2005).
10 A.M. No. P-11-2956, 8 February 2012. (Unsigned Resolution)
11 Id., citing Office of the Court Administrator v. Cuachon, A.M. No. P-06-2179, 12 January 2011, 639 SCRA 278.
12 Id.; Office of the Court Administrator v. Caballero, supra note 8.
13 Office of the Court Administrator v. Marcelo, A.M. No. P-06-2221, 5 October 2010, 632 SCRA 129, 135.
14Re: Report on the Judicial Audit and Physical Inventory of Cases in the MCTC Sara-Ajuy- Lemery, Iloilo, 514 Phil. 41, 47 (2005).
15 Section 52, Rule IV of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service provides:
Section 52. Classification of Offenses. – Administrative offenses with corresponding penalties are classified into grave, less grave or light, depending on their gravity or depravity and effects on the government service.
A. The following are grave offenses with their corresponding penalties:1. Dishonesty - 1st Offense - Dismissal
2. Gross Neglect of Duty - 1st Offense - Dismissal
16 Supra note 1, at 257-258.
17Office of the Court Administrator v. Cruz, supra note 6, at 12; Office of the Court Administrator v. Elumbaring, supra note 4, at 465.
18Office of the Court Administrator v. Cruz, supra note 6, citing In Re: Delayed Remittance of Collections of Teresita Lydia R. Odtuhan, 445 Phil. 220 (2003).
19Office of the Court Administrator v. Cruz, supra note 6, citing Office of the Court Administrator v. Banag, A.M. No. P-09-2638, 7 December 2010, 637 SCRA 18.