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563 Phil. 465


[ A.M. No. 2006-15-SC, November 23, 2007 ]




In the afternoon of October 6, 2006, Atty. Ma. Carina M. Cunanan, Assistant Chief of the Office of Administrative Services, this Court, received from an anonymous caller a text message that gambling activities were prevalent in the barracks of the Court’s security guards. The text message in the vernacular states in part:
x x x Alam po ninyo ma’am masyado pong sugapa na sa sugal na tong-its itong mga kasama ko at mga officer pa naman.

Araw at gabi po ang sugalan dito at kahit oras ng duty ay sige pa rin lalo na kung Sabado, Linggo at holidays. Kanina po pag-out ng 2 p.m. ni Sir Mazo, Pedroso at Dayap, game na sila. Sa mga oras pong ito ay kasalukuyan po silang naglalaro dun sa kwarto ni Sir Mazo sa bandang dulong barracks katabi ng banyo nila. Ma’am ang isang sugarol ay kapatid ng magnanakaw at ayaw po naming mawala ang barracks na aming tirahan.
Specifically, those allegedly playing cards were: Pedro G. Mazo, Security Officer I; Antonio C. Pedroso, Security Guard I; and Alexander Felix A. Dayap, also a Security Guard I, herein respondents.

Ferdinand P. Barrera, Security Guard II, upon instruction of Atty. Cunanan, conducted an “ocular inspection” of the barracks to determine the veracity of the report. There, he saw that indeed respondents were playing cards.

In three (3) separate memoranda all dated April 10, 2006, Atty. Cunanan directed respondents to explain why they should not be administratively charged with misconduct for gambling inside the security personnel’s barracks.

In their respective comments, respondents denied having any knowledge of the alleged prevalent gambling activities in the security guards’ barracks. While they admitted playing cards on April 6, 2006, however, they maintained there was no money involved. Dayap and Pedroso claimed that they were off-duty at that time and had nothing to do, hence, they decided to play cards to while away the time. Mazo explained that he was also off-duty and was just waiting for his wife’s call so they could go home together.

The Complaints and Investigation Division of the Office of the Administrative Services (CID-OAS) conducted an investigation on the report.

On June 13, 2006, Atty. Eden T. Candelaria, Deputy Clerk of Court and Chief Administrative Officer, submitted her report and recommendation, thus:
Coming now to the testimonies of the three (3) respondents, all of them maintained the averments they raised in their respective comments. They negated involvement in the alleged gambling activities. According to them, the incident on April 6, 2006 when they were reported to Atty. Cunanan was isolated. They claimed that it was purely for fun and the only reason why they played was to idle away the time until around 5:00 p.m., the time when Mr. Mazo was supposed to fetch his wife. They insisted that they did not place money bets considering that they did not have loose change at that time. They averred it was not gambling because there was no payoff after the games ended stressing on the said unavailability of loose change. Absent the said payment, they claimed that there was no gambling to speak of.

However, and this is crucial, Atty. Edwin B. Andrada, Court Attorney IV, Complaints and Investigation Division, this Office, and the Chief Investigating Officer, refreshed their recollection of the admission they made before himself and Atty. Cunanan where they admitted playing card games but that the same involved only minimal amount of bets. Undeniably, the said declaration having been taken during the preliminary investigation was not sworn to by them, thus, the need to apprise the respondents, who have been firm in their claim that they did not bet monies in the games.

However, after meticulous questions hurled by Atty. Andrada to the respondents, and having reminded them that they were under oath this time, Mr. Mazo amenably conformed to the playing of cards but qualified his statement that the games involved, quoting from his own words, “barya-barya lang. On the other hand, Mr. Pedroso and Mr. Dayap insisted that games were meant as a pastime, and even if they intended to bet monies at the start, there were no actual payments made to the winning player or players because they did not have loose coins to spare at that time.

Furthermore, noteworthy is the demeanor displayed by the respondents during the investigation. They tried to be evasive. They also appeared apprehensive and fidgety in giving their testimonies. Although the individual testimony of the respondents jibes with each other, the manner by which they testified placed doubts on their credibility and weakened their testimonies. This Office cannot but inferred that their testimonies during the formal investigation were the polished version of the defense they devised after the preliminary investigation.
Atty. Candelaria’s observation:
It is of no moment that no alleged payoff ensued after the games assuming without admitting that there was really none. What matters is that the whole time they were playing there were money bets and understanding to that effect among them exists. For it is almost certain, at least to them, there were losers and/or winners, yet this Office can only surmise as to the alleged non-payments. The claim adverted to stands dubious. The assertion that there was not enough loose coins to effect the payments could be safely concluded as a mere afterthought made up by the respondents in order to escape liability. Moreover, the assertion does not take away the existence of the bets during the games. After all, it is to be noted that they did not raise the same position during the preliminary investigation. It can therefore be inferred that after the said preliminary investigation but before the formal investigation, the respondents conferred and designed that position as a matter of their defense. Besides, the admission that the games involved “barya-barya” could not mean less than gambling.

x x x

This Office cannot but hold their later statements as mere fabrications and a sordid afterthought to mislead this Office. Furthermore, this Office finds no plausible reason why they opted to “play” in that small room at the nook of the barracks which appears uninviting when it comes to both convenience and ventilation had they nothing to hide.

In the same vein, it was also alarming that they were exactly doing an act which the Memorandum posted inside the said barracks itself has intended to forestall. Being completely aware of the existence of the Memorandum visibly posted inside the barracks makes it difficult condoning the act.

x x x

In the case at bar, although, it may be argued that they were not on duty when they committed the act of gambling the fact remains that they committed the same in violation of the Memorandum proscribing the commission of the said act, that it was inside the Court premises, and still during office hours as for the Court.
Atty. Candelaria’s recommendation:
  1. Mr. Pedroso and Mr. Dayap be held liable for Simple Misconduct, this being their first offense, and for humanitarian considerations, be SEVERELY REPRIMANDED, with a warning that a repetition of the same act in the future, shall be dealt with more severely; and

  2. Mr. Pedro Mazo be held liable for Simple Misconduct, this being his second offense, with mitigating circumstances of length of service totaling thirty-two (32) years, his consistent very satisfactory ratings, and for humanitarian considerations, be suspended for a period of three (3) months, without pay.
On August 28, 2006, respondents filed a Joint Manifestation and Motion for a formal investigation “to enable them to cross-examine and meet the complainant face to face.”

On August 29, 2006, the Court En Banc granted the motion and designated Atty. Felipa B. Anama, Assistant Clerk of Court, as Hearing Commissioner to conduct the investigation.

On February 14, 2007, Atty. Anama submitted her report and recommendation, thus:
Jurisprudence teaches us that a courtroom is looked upon with respect as this is where Justice is dispensed. More so, the courtroom of the highest court in the land, or its Session Hall, and its surrounding premises, should be considered sacrosanct. For this reason, it has declared as misconduct the playing cards inside court premises, which, in this Court’ premises, includes the barracks of its security personnel.

The respondents have admitted that they played cards inside the Court’s premises on April 6, 2006.

Having admitted such misconduct, the three respondents should be meted the appropriate penalty.

We recommend that the method Albano-Madrid laid for determining the appropriate penalty for such misconduct – likewise card-playing in the court therein – be followed, as follows:
x x x CSC Memorandum Circular No. 30, s. of 1989, sets out corresponding penalties for administrative cases pursuant to the Code of Ethical Standards (Republic Act No. 6713). It provides that for simple misconduct, classified as a less grave offense, the penalty should be suspension for one (1) month and one (1) day to six (6) months for the first violation. Inasmuch as this is the first offense committed by respondents, we find the minimum penalty of suspension for one (1) month and one (1) day, without pay, sufficient.
The penalty for a second offense of Simple Misconduct under the Civil Service Law is “Dismissal (The 2002 Revised Manual for Clerks of Court, p. 703).”

In view of the foregoing, the undersigned recommends the following penalties:
  1. Messrs. Pedroso and Dayap be held liable for the Simple Misconduct of card-playing in the Security Personnel Barracks and, while they may be meted the minimum penalty of suspension for one (1) month and one (1) day, without pay, this being their first offense, for humanitarian considerations, however, they be SEVERELY REPRIMANDED, with a warning that a repetition of the same act in the future, shall be dealt with more severely; and

  2. Mr. Mazo be held liable for the Simple Misconduct of card-playing in the Security Personnel Barracks and, while the Civil Service Rules mete out the penalty of Dismissal for a second offense, for humanitarian considerations, however, considering further, as mitigating circumstances, his length of service totaling thirty-two (32) years and his consistent “very satisfactory” ratings, he be SUSPENDED for a period of three (3) months, without pay, with a warning that a repetition of the same act in the future, shall be dealt with more severely.
A close examination of the records shows that respondents are indeed guilty of gambling prohibited by law. During the investigation conducted by the CID-OAS, respondent Mazo testified:

Atty. Tan:
You did admit, Mr. Mazo, a while ago that you were playing cards and you said “barya-barya” lang naman.

Yun nga po, maglalaro po kami.

Hindi, I just want to make it clear.

That you admit that. You said barya-barya lang.

You admitted to Atty. Cunanan. Naglalaro kayo pero barya-barya lang.
Hindi po. Naglalaro po kami barya[1]

Respondent Pedroso’s testimony is as follows:

Do you admit na, ‘yun na nga, may nag-report sa inyo that you are playing cards on April 6, 2006, the following day, we talked, tayo, si Atty. Cunanan, ikaw, si Mr. Dayap and si Mr. Mazo. During that confrontation, you admitted to us that you are playing cards at barya-barya lang naman ang pusta, parang pastime n’yo lang naman ‘yun?
Pastime lang ho.

Do you admit that, na ‘yung ang sinabi n’yo sa amin?
Inadmit naming na nag-play kami ng cards pero hindi kami nagbayaran.

Pero and sabi n’yo, pastime lang ma’am kasi barya-barya nga lang, papiso-piso lang, ‘di ba? That was your statement during that time.
Yes, pero and kuwan naming, hindi na nga kami nagkabayaran dahil wala naman kaming baryang kuwan.

‘Yun na nga. Hindi nga kayo nagkabayaran pero ‘yun ang statement n’yo noon sa amin.
Ang statement naming ‘yan, iadmit naming na nag-play ng kuwan…

So, ngayon uulitin kong tanungin, since we are under oath. Naglaro kayo noon pero para sa barya-barya lang? Only to kill time, sabi n’yo?
To while-away the time lang. Pero ang kuwan namin, hindi kami nagkabayaran. No money involved nung magkuwan kami.

x x x

Respondents’ disclaimer that money was not involved is inconsequential. In fact, their defense that they were simply having an innocuous card game sans monetary bets does not excuse their misconduct.[2] In Albano-Madrid v. Apolonio,[3] we held:
What is more alarming, in our view, is respondents’ nonchalance concerning the effect of their misconduct. They have the gall to split hairs and say that they were playing cards, but not gambling. If loafing during office hours could not be countenanced, the more reason playing cards could not be tolerated in the judge’s chambers. Such act or conduct that violates the norm of public accountability or diminish the people’s faith in the judiciary could never be tolerated or condoned.
However, we can not sustain the recommended penalties. Under Section 52(C)(5), Rule IV of Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 19, Series of 1999,[4] gambling prohibited by law is classified as a light offense, punishable as follows:

First Offense
- Reprimand

Second Offense
- Suspension for 1-30 days

Third Offense
- Dismissal from the service

While respondent Mazo was previously suspended for three (3) days without pay, however, his offense was neglect of duty. This was his first offense for gambling prohibited by law. This was also the first time respondents Pedroso and Dayap committed the same offense.

WHEREFORE, for engaging in gambling prohibited by law, respondents Pedro Mazo, Security Officer I, Antonio C. Pedroso, Security Guard I, and Alexander Felix A. Dayap, also a Security Guard I, are hereby REPRIMANDED and WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar infraction in the future will be dealt with more severely.


Puno, C.J., Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Carpio-Morales, Azcuna, Tinga, Chico-Nazario, Velasco, Jr., Nachura, and Reyes, JJ., concur.
Corona, J., on official leave.

[1] TSN dated May 11, 2006.

[2] Albano-Madrid v. Apolonio, A.M. No. P-01-1517, February 17, 2003, 397 SCRA 120.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service.

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