CASE BrieF NO. 2019-0023

CASE: RE: REPORT OF ATTY. CARIDAD A. P ABELLO, Chief of Office, Office of Administrative Services- Office of the Court Administrator (OAS-OCA), on Neglect of Duty of FERDINAND F. ANDRES, Human Resource Management Officer III, Regional Trial Court (RTC)-Personnel Division, OAS-OCA, the Processor-in-Charge of Appointment and the Alleged Erroneous Recording, Erasure, and Alteration of the Performance Rating on the Record Book. [A.M. No. 2014-07-SC July 8, 2015]

PONENTE: Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe

SUBJECT:

  1. Administrative Law
    i. Simple Neglect of Duty

Attribution of the mistake to human error and his alleged heavy workload at the time cannot be given credence because a heavy workload is not a compelling reason to justify failure to perform one’s duties properly.”


FACTS:        Ferdinand F. Andres (Andres), is the Processor-in-Charge of RTC personnel in Regions VIII, IX, XI, and XII. In consequence of the vacancy in the position of Sheriff IV in the RTC-Branch 31, he prepared a Memorandum Report containing the line-up/matrix of the applicants for the said position, which included Guillermo C. Puerto (Puerto).

Puerto, who was listed as having a performance rating of “Very Satisfactory” for the period January to June 2013, was subsequently promoted to the position of Sheriff IV. Puerto assumed his official duty on February 3, 2014.

However, when Puerto’s promotional papers were about to be transmitted to the Records Control Division of the OAS-OCA for inclusion in his 201 file, Andres noticed that Puerto’s performance rating form (PR form) was lacking. Upon verification with the Clerk of Court who rated Puerto’s performance, Andres learned that Puerto’s performance rating was only “Satisfactory,” hence, erroneously reported, which meant that Puerto should have been disqualified for promotion.

In an undated incident report, Andres conveyed the matter to Atty. Pabello, stating that “he committed a big mistake/negligence x x x in not observing/checking accurately the said memo,” which resulted in the erroneous reporting of Puerto’s performance rating as “Very Satisfactory.” However, after discovering his mistake, he verified Puerto’s performance rating and secured a copy of the latter’s PR form, which showed a “Satisfactory” performance rating. He offered his apology and manifested his acceptance of the consequences of his mistake.

As a result Puerto’s promotional appointment was revoked and that the vacancy for the position of Sheriff IV in the said court be declared vacant and re-posted.

ISSUE:        Is Andres liable?

RULING:

Yes.

Under OCA Circular No. 74-2010 dated May 21, 2010, as amended by OCA Circular No. 134-2010 dated October 5, 2010,in relation to the Revised Administrative Circular (A.C.) No. 50-2001 dated September 30, 2005, the OAS-OCA is tasked, inter alia, with the: (a) preparation of the list of candidates aspiring for vacant positions in the lower courts; (b) conduct of preliminary evaluation of the qualifications of all listed candidates; (c) submission of the selection line-up to the SPB-LC; (d) processing of the commission evidencing the appointment; and (e) the required notifications.

Andres, as processor-in-charge of appointment, occupies a sensitive position which is vital to the human resource management operations and activities of the RTC-Personnel Division of the OAS-OCA. His primary task is to check and verify the information given by applicants for any vacant position in the RTC and, thereafter, prepare the necessary reports for his supervisors.

Under Item XIV (14) (a) of Revised A.C. No. 50-2001, “for appointment by promotion, the performance rating of the appointee for the last rating period prior to the effectivity date of the appointment should be at least very satisfactory” – a requirement which Andres is aware of. Nonetheless, he failed to meticulously check Puerto’s qualifications and indicate in the list of lacking requirements, the absence of Puerto’s PR form. While applications “with incomplete form or lacking requirement/s shall still be included in the list to be submitted to the SPB-LC with a notation as to the lacking form or requirement/s,” subject to subsequent accomplishment/submission as the SPB-LC may require, Andres likewise erroneously reported Puerto’s performance rating as “Very Satisfactory” instead of “Satisfactory,” which eventually led to the latter’s promotion from Clerk III to Sheriff IV, albeit disqualified.

From the foregoing circumstances, Andres was clearly remiss and negligent in performing his assigned tasks as a processor-in-charge, and is guilty of simple neglect of duty, defined as “the failure of an employee to give proper attention to a required task or to discharge a duty due to carelessness or indifference.”

Section 1, Canon IV of A.M. No. 03-06-13-SC, otherwise known as the “Code of Conduct for Court Personnel,” mandates that “court personnel shall at all times perform official duties properly and with diligence. x x x.” The Court has repeatedly emphasized that the “judicial machinery can only function if every employee performs his task with the highest degree of professionalism. Court personnel are obligated to perform their duties properly and with diligence. Any task given to an employee of the judiciary, however menial it may be, must be done in the most prompt and diligent way.” Andres’ attribution of the mistake to human error and his alleged heavy workload at the time cannot be given credence because a heavy workload is not a compelling reason to justify failure to perform one’s duties properly. Otherwise, every government employee charged with negligence and dereliction of duty would always proffer a similar excuse to escape punishment, to the prejudice of the government service. Truth be told, it is incumbent upon every government employee to adapt all reasonable means to cope with the heavy workload, for the occupation demands no less than full and uncomplaining dedication to the public service.

The Penalty

Considering that said offense would be his first administrative infraction in his long length of service in the judiciary, the Court finds it proper to appreciate a mitigation of the penalty, and impose the penalty of reprimand.
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THINGS DECIDED:

A) Section 1, Canon IV of A.M. No. 03-06-13-SC, otherwise known as the “Code of Conduct for Court Personnel,” mandates that “court personnel shall at all times perform official duties properly and with diligence.

B) Attribution of the mistake to human error and his alleged heavy workload at the time cannot be given credence because a heavy workload is not a compelling reason to justify failure to perform one’s duties properly. Otherwise, every government employee charged with negligence and dereliction of duty would always proffer a similar excuse to escape punishment, to the prejudice of the government service. Truth be told, it is incumbent upon every government employee to adapt all reasonable means to cope with the heavy workload, for the occupation demands no less than full and uncomplaining dedication to the public service.


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