G.R. No. 212641, July 05, 2017
ANGELICA A. FAJARDO, Petitioner, v. MARIO J. CORRAL, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
Before Us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, which seeks to annul and set aside the Decision1 dated September 16, 2013 and Resolution2 dated May 9, 2014 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 121180.
Respondent Mario J. Corral (Corral), Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Manager of the Treasury Department of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), filed a Complaint-Affidavit docketed as OMB-C-A-09-0355-G against petitioner Angelica Fajardo (Fajardo) for Serious Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct, and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of Service before the Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman).3
Fajardo was designated as OIC, Division Chief III, Prize Payment (Teller) Division of the Treasury Department of the PCSO. Her duties included instituting procedures in actual payment of prizes, conducting periodic check-up, actual counting of paid winning tickets, and requisitioning of cash for distribution to paying tellers. She was also authorized to draw cash advance of PhP 3,000,000.00 (PhP 2,000,000.00 for payment of sweepstakes and lotto low-tier prizes, and PhP 1,000,000.00 for the PCSO-POSC Scratch IT Project.4 For such accountability, Fajardo was bonded with the Bureau of Treasury for PhP 1,500,000.00. In line with her duties, she was issued a vault, which she alone has access to as she held its key and knew the combination to open the same, to keep the money and documents in her custody.5
On November 13, 2008, a team from the PCSO Internal Audit Department (IAD) conducted a spot audit on Fajardo's cash and cash items. The team discovered that Fajardo had a shortage of PhP 218,461.00.6 After such audit, Fajardo did not report for work, so said team of auditors sealed her vault on November 17, 2008 and her steel cabinet on November 28, 2008.7
Corral required Fajardo to report for work, to explain her shortage during the audit, and to be physically present in the opening of her vault. Fajardo requested an additional five working days within which to report back to work, but she failed to do the same despite the lapse of such extended period.8
On January 8, 2009, another cash count was conducted, upon recommendation of the Commission on Audit (COA). Said audit was held in the presence of Fajardo and representatives from IAD and COA. During the said cash count, it was discovered that cash worth PhP 1,621,476.00 and checks worth PhP 37,513.00 were missing. As such, Fajardo had a total shortage of PhP 1,877,450.00. It was also discovered that there were undetermined number of paid winning sweepstakes tickets amounting to PhP 1,024,870.00 dating back from 2004, which were not processed for liquidation/replenishment.9
Five days thereafter or on January 13, 2009, a letter was issued to Fajardo, which ordered her to immediately produce the missing funds and to explain such shortage. However, Fajardo failed to account and to produce the missing funds, and to give a reasonable excuse for such shortage.10
In a Letter dated January 27, 2009, Fajardo admitted her mistake. She offered to settle her accountability by waiving all her rights to bonuses and monetary benefits for 2008 and paying PhP 300,000.00. In her letter, Fajardo did not question the regularity of the conduct of spot audits.11
In her Counter-Affidavit, Fajardo denied that spot audits were conducted; and if so, such were done contrary to established rules. Hence, the results could not be the basis of any action against her. She maintained that the team of auditors excluded the vale sheets and other cash items, and that she was not given the opportunity to rule, balance, and close her books before the conduct of the cash count. Fajardo also claimed that she was forced to sign Certifications and Demands (Cash Examination Count Sheet), containing her alleged shortage, on two different occasions.12
WHEREFORE, finding substantial evidence of guilt for Serious Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, respondent ANGELICA A. FAJARDO is hereby meted the penalty of DISMISSAL from the service, with all its accessory penalties.Fajardo filed a motion for reconsideration, which was denied in an Order15 dated March 16, 2011.
Pursuant to Section 7, Administrative Order No. 17 of the Office of the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman Memorandum Circular No. 01, Series of 2006, the Chairman of the Philippine. Charity Sweepstakes Office is hereby directed to implement this Decision and to submit promptly a Compliance Report within five (5) days from receipt indicating the OMB case number: OMB-C-A-09-0355-G, entitled "Mario J. Corral vs. Angelica A. Fajardo" to this Office, thru the Central Records Division, 2nd Floor, Ombudsman Building, Agham Road, Government Center, North Triangle, Diliman, 1128, Quezon City.
Compliance is respectfully enjoined consistent with Sec. 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and Section 15(3) of R.A. No. 6770 (Ombudsman Act of 1989).
ACCORDINGLY, the Petition for Review is DISMISSED. The Decision dated 1 September 2010, and the Order dated 16 March 2011, of the Office of the Ombudsman, are AFFIRMED.Fajardo filed a Motion for Reconsideration, which was denied by the CA in a Resolution18 dated May 9, 2014.
WHETHER OR NOT FAJARDO IS GUILTY OF SERIOUS DISHONESTY, GRAVE MISCONDUCT AND CONDUCT PREJUDICIAL TO THE BEST INTEREST OF SERVICE.
(1) the dishonest act caused serious damage and grave prejudice to the Government;Grave misconduct is defined as the transgression of some established and definite rule of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence by a public officer coupled with the elements of corruption, willful intent to violate the law or to disregard established rules.25 Corruption, as an element of grave misconduct, consists in the official or employee's act of unlawfully or wrongfully using his position to gain benefit for one's self.26 Lastly, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service deals with a demeanor of a public officer which "tarnished the image and integrity of his/her public office".27
(2) the respondent gravely abused his authority in order to commit the dishonest act;
(3) where the respondent is an accountable officer, the dishonest act directly involves property, accountable forms or money for which he is directly accountable and the respondent shows an intent to commit material gain, graft and corruption;
(4) The dishonest act exhibits moral depravity on the part of respondent;
(5) The respondent employed fraud and/or falsification of official documents in the commission of the dishonest act related to his/her employment;
(6) The dishonest act was committed several times or in various occasions;
(7) The dishonest act involves a Civil Service examination irrregularity or fake Civil Service eligibility such as, but not limited to impersonation, cheating and use of crib sheets; and
(8) Other analogous circumstances.24 (Emphasis supplied)
1 Penned by Associate Justice Nina G. Antonio-Valenzuela and concurred in by Associate Justices Isaias P. Dicdican and Michael P. Elbinias; rollo, pp. 39-59.
2 Id. at 91-92.
3 Id. at 40.
4 Id. at 40 and 102.
5 Id. at 40.
6 Cash Examination Count Sheet; id. at 127.
7 Id. at 40-41.
8 Id. at 44.
9 Id. at 42 and 44.
10 Id. at 41.
11 Id. at 44.
12 Id. at 41-42.
13 Reviewed by Acting Director Medwin S. Dizon, recommended by Acting Assistant Ombudsman Mary Susan S. Guillermo and approved by Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas N. Gutierrez; id. at 128-141.
14 Id. at 139-140.
15 Id. at 164-172.
16 Supra at note 1.
17Rollo, p. 59.
18 Supra at note 2.
19Fajardo v. Office of the Ombudsman, et al., G.R. No. 173268, August 23, 2012.
20Office of the Ombudsman v. Santos, G.R. No. 166116, March 31, 2006.
21Advincula v. Dicen, G.R. No. 162403, May 16, 2005.
22 G.R. No. 129064, November 29, 2000.
23Alfornon v. Delos Santos, et al., G.R. No. 203657, July 11, 2016.
24 CSC Resolution No. 06-0538, Section 3.
25Office of the Ombudsman v. Apolonio, G.R. No. 165132, March 7, 2012.
26Seville v. Commission of Audit, G.R. No. 177657, November 20, 2012.
27Largo v. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No.177244, November 20, 2007.
28Belleza v. Commission on Audit, G.R. No. 133490, February 27, 2002.
29 Republic Act No. 1169, AN ACT PROVIDING FOR CHARITY SWEEPSTAKES, HORSE RACES, AND LOTTERIES. Approved June 18, 1954.
30Rollo, p. 55.