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478 Phil. 153


[ A.M. No. P-03-1738, July 12, 2004 ]




This is a complaint for Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service and Violation of Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as the Code of Ethics of Public Officials and Employees in the Government filed by Zeny Luminate-Prak, in behalf of his brother Silvestre Luminate, Jr., against herein respondent Emiladie Anacan, Court Stenographer III of the Regional Trial Court, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, Branch 45.

Silvestre Luminate, Jr. owned a parcel of land situated in Bubog, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, with an area of 23,063 square meters.  The adjoining property containing an area of 6,826 square meters belonged to another of the complainant’s brothers, Dominador Luminate.  It was Dominador’s property which was initially expropriated by the government for the Rural Road Improvement Project (RRIP), through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).  As Dominador’s property was small, a portion of Silvestre’s property, constituting about 3,470 square meters was also taken to complete the 10,296 square-meter area needed for the road project.  Consent to the inclusion of the subject portion was made pursuant to an Affidavit of Conformity, purportedly signed by Silvestre, Jr.  The total amount for this consolidated area was P2,895,058.88,  to be paid by the government in two (2) installments.

In her Complaint dated November 11, 2002,[1] the complainant alleged that the respondent facilitated the transaction of the RRIP with the government involving the property of her brother, Silvestre Luminate, Jr., without the latter’s knowledge and consent. She averred that the Affidavit of Conformity could not have been executed by her brother since the latter was abroad at that time.  It was the respondent who followed up the claim for payment in the amount of P2,800,000.00 out of which Silvestre, Jr. should have received P1,079,000.00 as compensation for his property. However, Silvestre, Jr. received only P220,000.00 because, according to the respondent, he was entitled to only P360,000.00 less 40%, as the latter amount represented attorney’s fees, engineer’s fees and taxes.

In answer, the respondent submitted a Sworn Statement to the Executive Judge on December 16, 2002,[2] where she denied any participation in the transaction with the Luminates, particularly. Silvestre, Jr.  She admitted that she facilitated the payment for her uncle’s claim, whose property was also affected by the road-widening project in Mindoro West Coast, Package 1, San Jose-Rizal Section.  When the Spouses Dominador and Ammie Luminate learned that she was going to make some follow-ups in Manila, Ammie decided to come along.

On March 11, 2002, the payment of the claims in the road- widening project was funded by the Department of Budget and Management, through Sub Allotment Advice (SAA) 1446. However, she did not see the name of Silvestre, Jr. among the claimants/payees.  The respondent further averred that it was Dominador and Ammie Luminate who received the payments for their property.

In a Resolution dated August 25, 2003,[3] the Court referred the matter to Executive Judge Ernesto P. Pagayatan, Regional Trial Court, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, Branch 46, for investigation, report and recommendation.

The Executive Judge received the testimonies of both parties.

There were two (2) pertinent documents which were submitted to the appropriate agencies to facilitate the expropriation of and payment for the portion of land covering 3,470 square meters belonging to Silvestre Luminate, Jr.  The complainant stressed that these documents could not have been executed by his brother, since the latter was in Japan for ten (10) years, from 1992 to February 2002.  The complainant accused the respondent of forging her brother’s signatures on the following documents:

1)    AFFIDAVIT OF CONFORMITY shown to have been executed on November 19, 1998 by the brothers Dominador and Silvestre, where they purportedly agreed to consolidate their property into one title “to conform with the legal requirements of the Department of Public Works and Highways (Occ. Mindoro),” with the further request that the title to the combined areas be “facilitated” and thereafter “issued in the name of Dominador Luminate as the road right of way” (Exhibit “D-16”).
2)    SPECIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY purportedly executed on March 12, 2002 by Silvestre Luminate, Jr. in favor of his brother Dominador, vesting the latter, among others, with the authority to work for his claims for payment of his road lot corresponding to a portion of his property covered by TCT No. T-15818, to receive the proceeds therefrom and to sign all documents pertinent thereto (Exhibit “D-21”).[4]
Dominador, who testified in favor of the complainant, denied having prepared the Affidavit of Conformity, but admitted that the signature on it was his.  He testified that the respondent caused him to sign  the  said  document, among others, with the  hurried  explanation that  his  signatures  were  needed  to  expedite his claims.  Dominador confessed that he only finished Grade 5 and could not understand English.  He, likewise, denied knowledge of the Special Power of Attorney (SPA) allegedly executed by Silvestre, Jr. in his favor.  He, however, admitted having received a check in the amount of P1,085,000.00 from the DPWH.  The check voucher, nonetheless, indicated that the payee was “SILVESTRE LUMINATE rep. by DOMINADOR LUMINATE,” and was received by Dominador Luminate.

The respondent, for her part, denied forging Silvestre, Jr.’s signatures on the Affidavit of Conformity and the Special Power of Attorney.  She averred that Ammie Luminate already had these documents with her when they transacted together with the DPWH officials.  She stated that it was Ammie Luminate who wanted a Special Power of Attorney executed in favor of Dominador so that the latter could claim the payments in behalf of Silvestre, Jr.  However, the respondent admitted having signed as witness to the SPA.

The Executive Judge found that the signatures of Silvestre, Jr. on the two (2) questioned documents, as compared to his signatures on the Sinumpaang Salaysay[5] executed on November 20, 2003 regarding this incident, and the Special Power of Attorney executed in favor of the complainant Zeny Prak,[6] were different.  The Executive Judge concluded that the respondent was not responsible for the forgeries:
It is noted that the Affidavit of Conformity bearing the real signature of Dominador Luminate (Exhibit “D-16”) was executed on November 19, 1998, while the Agency Agreement between Dominador Luminate and  respondent was executed on March 11, 2002 (Exhibit “A”), or about three (3) years and four (4) months after the Affidavit of Conformity was executed.  Thus, it is illogical and certainly not in accordance with the natural course of things to conclude that respondent had a hand in the forging of the signature of Silvestre Luminate in the Affidavit of Conformity.[7]
While the respondent might not have had a direct hand in the preparation of the pertinent documents, she was, however, aware of the unlawful acts perpetrated by the Spouses Dominador and Ammie Luminate in facilitating and obtaining the money, to the prejudice of Silvestre, Jr.  The Executive Judge observed, thus:
In this particular case, respondent acted as witness to a Special Power of Attorney, which gave authority to the grantee to effectively dispose of the real property of the grantor and to receive/encash the proceeds thereof involving a substantial sum of money.  Granting that she did not actually forge Silvestre’s signature, she should have been put on guard by the somewhat unusual circumstances the document was drawn as she herself has pictured in her testimony.  Under the circumstances, it appears that she has allowed herself to be an instrument in perpetrating a dishonest act, which undoubtedly inured to her benefit, and to Dominador Luminate as well, to the prejudice of the rightful beneficiary, Silvestre Luminate, Jr.


The foregoing findings have preponderantly proved that the respondent has exhibited such conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, as a consequence of which, she should be given STERN WARNING that future similar violations will be dealt with more severely.[8]
We agree with the findings of the Executive Judge.  The respondent’s participation in the questioned transaction was merely to the extent of facilitating the release of payments made to the Spouses Dominador and Ammie Luminate by the government as compensation for the expropriation of the properties. The couple sought the respondent’s help upon learning that she was going to Manila to follow up her uncle’s claim, which was similar to theirs. It was the Spouses Dominador and Ammie Luminate who approached the respondent. While she does not deny that she was promised an amount for her efforts, there is no showing that the respondent took advantage of the helplessness of the couple or the illiteracy of Dominador Luminate in order to obtain any pecuniary benefit.  Thus, Executive Judge Pagayatan saw no basis for the charges against the respondent.

Clearly, the acts complained of in this administrative case are not connected to the respondent’s judicial duties as a stenographer.  The Executive Judge took note that the respondent was careful to file her leave of absence every time she came to Manila to do the follow- ups.[9] Nonetheless, it bears stressing that the respondent, as an employee of the judiciary, must exercise prudence in dealing with people. The image of a court of justice is mirrored in the conduct, official and otherwise, of the personnel who work thereat.  Thus, the conduct of a person serving the judiciary must, at all times, be characterized by propriety and decorum and above all else, be above suspicion so as to earn and keep the respect of the public for the judiciary.[10] The Court would never countenance any conduct, act or omission on the part of all those involved in the administration of justice, which would violate the norm of public accountability and diminish or even just tend to diminish the faith of the people in the judiciary.[11]

As such, employees of the judiciary must be wary, and should “tread carefully” when assisting other persons, even if such assistance sought would call for the exercise of acts unrelated to their official functions. Such assistance should not in any way compromise the public’s trust in the justice system.  Personal interests, i.e., pecuniary benefit in the transaction, must give way to the accommodation of the public.[12] This is enunciated in the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (R.A. No. 6713) which aims to promote a high standard of ethics and utmost responsibility in the public service.  The respondent is hereby enjoined to observe such conduct.

ACCORDINGLY, the respondent is hereby ADMONISHED and given a STERN WARNING that future similar violations will be dealt with more severely.


Puno, (Chairman), Quisumbing, Austria-Martinez, and Tinga, JJ., concur.

[1] Rollo, p. 1.

[2] Id. at 11.

[3] Rollo, p. 112.

[4] Report and Recommnedation, pp. 3-4.

[5] Exhibit “E.”

[6] Exhibit “I.”

[7] Report and Recommendation, pp. 5-6.

[8] Report and Recommendation, pp. 6-7.

[9]  TSN, 20 January 2004, pp. 13-14.

[10] Rural Bank of Francisco Balagtas (Bulacan) v. Pangilinan, 307 SCRA 725 (1999).

[11] Judge Fe Albano Madrid v. Antonio T. Quebral, etc., A.M. No. P-03-1744-45, October 7, 2003.

[12] See Macalua v. Tiu, Jr. 275 SCRA 320 (1997).

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