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604 Phil. 256


[ A.M. No. P-07-2321 [Formerly OCA I.P.I. No. 07-2492-P], April 24, 2009 ]




This administrative matter arose from the Letter-Complaint of Judge Pelagia J. Dalmacio-Joaquin of the Metropolitan Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) in San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan, charging respondent Nicomedes C. dela Cruz, Process Server in said MTCC, with Insubordination, Disobedience, and Conduct Unbecoming a Court Personnel.

The facts of the case, as gathered from the records, are as follows:

On November 3, 2006, after complainant judge left her office a few minutes before 5:00 p.m., Security Guard Sielam G. Wee reported to her that on November 2, 2006, respondent allegedly arrived in the office, apparently drunk, and hurled invectives while pointing his fingers at other employees present, particularly: Jonathan Nolasco, Josephine dela Rosa, Cresencia Reyes, and Harold Gumbao. Afterwards, respondent attempted to punch Nolasco but was waylaid by Wee who pulled respondent away.

After hearing the report, complainant summoned the employees involved in the incident to her chambers. In the presence of Acting Branch Clerk of Court Mark Anthony V. Aniag, the employees recounted their stories and expressed their apprehension that respondent might do them harm. They also expressed the intention not to file administrative charges against respondent and one of them even asked to be transferred to another court.

At past 1:00 p.m. of the same day, respondent was summoned into the complainant's office where he denied the contents of Wee's report. Thereafter, complainant asked Wee to produce the logbook, which detailed the events that transpired the day before, and show it to respondent. After seeing the logbook, respondent admitted taking alcoholic drink but denied being drunk at that time. When the employees involved in the incident confronted respondent, he called them liars and left the complainant's chambers without a word. Complainant then followed him asking him to return so that they can finish their discussion, but respondent ignored her and hid in a comfort room.

Complainant also alleged that respondent is the subject of other complaints, one filed sometime in 2005 with the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), entitled Judge Pelagia Dalmacio-Joaquin v. Nicomedes C. Dela Cruz, initially docketed as IPI No. 05-2299-P, and later redocketed as A.M. No. 05-2299-P. In it, respondent was charged with challenging a co-employee to a fight, submitting either false or misleading and oftentimes late returns for serving notices and orders, and failing to comply with the show-cause orders issued to him. In fact, on February 20, 2006, the Court issued a Resolution in which respondent was admonished and warned that a repetition of the same or similar offense shall be dealt with more severely.

In compliance with the directive of the OCA, respondent submitted his comment dated January 15, 2007. Giving his version of the incident in question, he alleged that he was just having an argument with his co-employees, adding that he raised his voice merely to stress a point. He claimed that Wee must have thought that he was angry upon hearing his voice. He denied the imputation of his being drunk and that he hurled invectives against his co-employees. He also said that a stomachache prompted him to hurriedly leave the complainant's office and go home. Furthermore, he declared that he did not want to answer back at the complainant so he just left her office.

On May 23, 2007, the Court resolved to refer the administrative matter to Executive Judge Petrita B. Dime of the Regional Trial Court in Malolos City for investigation, report, and recommendation.

In accordance with the authority the Court granted her through a Resolution in A.M. No. 05-10-671-RTC, Judge Dime, after the raffle of the matter on November 21, 2007, designated 1st Vice-Executive Judge Herminia V. Pasamba to conduct the investigation, prepare the report, and submit her recommendations.

Following an investigation, Judge Pasamba submitted on March 5, 2008 her Report, in which she described respondent as ill-tempered and lacking in restraint and discipline, bordering on disrespect and disobedience to a superior. She also found respondent to have deviated from the judicial decorum demanded of him when he hurled invectives at his co-employees, causing them to cow in fear and cry. She also determined that respondent was drunk when he returned to the court on the afternoon in question. Finally, she found that respondent has been charged administratively three (3) times, one of which is still pending with the Executive Judge.

The investigating judge recommended that respondent, for his acts complained of, be meted the penalty of suspension for two (2) months without pay.

On April 16, 2008, the Court referred the report of Judge Pasamba to the OCA for further evaluation, report, and recommendation. On October 21, 2008, Court Administrator Jose P. Perez submitted a Memorandum in which he affirmed and adopted the factual findings of the investigating judge. He, however, recommended the modification of the proposed sanction to suspension of one (1) year without pay on the ground that respondent's inculpatory acts constitute gross insubordination and misconduct.

The recommendation of the Court Administrator and the premises holding it together are well taken.

Insubordination is defined as a refusal to obey some order, which a superior officer is entitled to give and have obeyed.[1] The term imports a willful or intentional disregard of the lawful and reasonable instructions of the employer.[2]

Clearly, respondent's conduct towards complainant constitutes insubordination. Complainant, as the chief of her office, acted within her authority when she summoned the employees involved in the reported November 2, 2006 incident into her chambers for a meeting to ascertain what actually happened during that time and to undertake the appropriate measures to maintain peace in her office. In that meeting, however, respondent deported in a manner reflecting lack of restraint and disrespect towards his superior. And if this was not enough, he rudely and unceremoniously walked out of the meeting. He even had the audacity to ignore complainant's requests for him to return to the meeting. Worse, after hiding in the comfort room of the clerk, he went home without so much as seeking leave from the judge. Without a doubt, respondent's actions amount to gross insubordination, not to mention gross disobedience and disrespect to the judicial authority and the position of complainant judge.

Misconduct, on the other hand, is a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, unlawful behavior, willful in character, improper or wrong behavior.[3] It is any unlawful behavior by public officers in relation to the duties of their offices, willful in character. The term embraces acts which the office holder had no right to perform, acts performed improperly, and failure to act in the face of an affirmative duty to act.[4]

Respondent committed misconduct when he verbally abused his co-employees and appeared at his place of work drunk. Drinking during office hours may constitute misconduct and is prohibited under the Civil Service Rules.[5] Drinking undermines efficiency and is counter-productive. It generates an unwholesome consequence on a public servant. And when the culprit is an employee of the court, the image of the judiciary as a whole cannot but be affected.

Any act which falls short of the exacting standards for public office, especially on the part of those expected to preserve the image of the judiciary, should not be countenanced. Respondent's act can only be regarded as simple misconduct since it has no direct relation to the performance of his official duties.[6]

Under Section 52, Rule IV of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, gross insubordination is a grave offense punishable by suspension (from six months and one day to one year) for the first offense. On the other hand, simple misconduct is a less grave offense punishable by suspension for the first offense, but only from one month and one day to six months. In this instance, we apply Sec. 55 of the same Rules[7] and consider the offense of simple misconduct as an aggravating circumstance, for which reason, the penalty for gross insubordination in its maximum should be imposed.[8]

Respondent and other court employees for that matter need to be reminded that government service is people-oriented where high-strung behavior and boorishness cannot be allowed.[9] They are supposed to be well-mannered and considerate in their actuation both in their relationships with co-workers and the transacting public.[10] Belligerent behavior has no place in government service where personnel are enjoined to act with self restraint and civility at all times even when confronted with rudeness and insolence.[11]

At this juncture, the Court notes that, as the OCA pointed out, the respondent has already been administratively charged thrice for misconduct. In one, he was admonished and warned.[12] It is obvious that respondent did not take seriously the warning the Court gave him and flaunted his ill-tempered manner even after the imposition of the sanction.

WHEREFORE, Nicomedes C. dela Cruz, Process Server of the MTCC in San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan, is found GUILTY of Gross Insubordination and Simple Misconduct. He is meted the penalty of SUSPENSION of one (1) year without pay, with the stern warning that a repetition of similar or analogous infractions in the future shall be dealt with more severely.


Carpio Morales*, (Acting Chairman), Tinga, Leonardo-De Castro** and Brion, JJ., concur.

* As per Special Order No. 618 dated April 14, 2009.

** Additional member as per Special Order No. 619 dated April 14, 2009.


[2] Porter v. Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Columbia, 246 S.C. 370, 146 S.E.2d 620, 622.

[3] Camus, Jr. v. Alegre, A.M. No. P-06-2182, August 12, 2008, 561 SCRA 744, 754; citing Rodriguez v. Eugenio, A.M. No. RTJ-06-2216, April 20, 2007, 521 SCRA 489, 501.

[4] Callejo, Juanita T., CSC Resolution No. 99-0192, January 15, 1999.

[5] Presidential Decree No. 807, Art. IX, Sec. 36(4).

[6] Jallorina v. CSC, CA-G.R. SP No. 45642, September 8, 1998.

[7] Section 55. Penalty for the Most Serious Offense.--If the respondent is guilty of two or more charges or counts, the penalty to be imposed should be that corresponding to the most serious charge or count and the rest shall be considered as aggravating circumstances.

[8] Anonymous v. Velarde-Laolao, A.M. No. P-07-2404, December 13, 2007, 540 SCRA 42, 59.

[9] De Luna v. Ricon, A.M. No. P-94-1093, November 16, 1995, 250 SCRA 1, 6.

[10] De Vera, Jr. v. Rimando, A.M. No. P-03-1672, June 8, 2007, 524 SCRA 25, 32.

[11] Quiroz v. Orfila, A.M. No. P-96-1210, May 7, 1997, 272 SCRA 324, 331.

[12] A.M. No. 05-2299-P.

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