394 Phil. 415
Despite receipt of a copy of the letter-complaint and being directed to file her answer thereto, respondent Lim failed to file any answer. This prompted complainant Judge Ibay to request, through a letter dated November 26, 1998, that respondent Lim be considered to have waived her right to file her answer. In a Resolution dated March 24, 1999 the Court granted the same and further resolved to re-docket the complaint as an administrative matter and directed the Court administrator to refer the case to a consultant of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) for investigation, report and recommendation.
- For conviction of the crime of libel, a crime involving moral turpitude - In People vs. Virginia Lim, Criminal Case No. 90-87158 in RTC Manila, Branch 42, respondent Lim was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of libel committed against Judge Ramon P. Makasiar, then Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 36. She was placed on Probation and thereafter discharged.
- For gross neglect of duty - An inventory of the records conducted on January 1998 showed that respondent Lim failed to transcribe the stenographic notes of thirty-one (31) proceedings in eighteen (18) inherited cases and despite her relief from court duty on March 19, 1998, she still had fourteen (14) untranscribed notes as of June 1998.
- For grave misconduct - In civil Case No. 89-4649 respondent Lim was ordered by the Court to transcribe her notes within five (5) days from receipt of the Order dated January 16, 1998. In defiance of said Order, respondent Lim filed an application for leave. More than a month after, at the instance of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 89-4649, administrative and contempt proceedings were filed against her for her failure/neglect/refusal to transcribe the stenographic notes. In an Order dated March 19, 1998, respondent Lim was fined P1,000.00 for contempt of court. Meanwhile, the motion of plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 89-4649 was treated as an administrative complaint and was forwarded to the Court Administrator for action.
- For flagrant violation of paragraph 7 of Administrative Circular No. 24-90 - Despite her heavy backlog, respondent Lim traveled abroad, with pending untranscribed TSNs which were more than one (1) year old.
A. Conviction of a Crime Involving Moral TurpitudeJustice Molina recommended that respondent Lim be dismissed from the service for gross neglect of duty, grave misconduct and violation of administrative circulars of the Supreme Court. The OCA agreed and adopted the said Report and Recommendation.x x x
Ms. Lim's conviction for libel, even granting that libel involves moral turpitude, cannot per se be a ground for her dismissal from the service. Discharge from probation which restores to the probationer all civil rights lost or suspended as a result of the conviction, to the mind of the undersigned, has the same effect as an absolute pardon which releases the punishment and blots out the existence of guilt, so that in the eyes of the law the offender is as innocent as if he had never committed the offense (Ex-Parte Garland 4 Wall, 344). Probation, after all, is granted in order to give the probationer a chance to return to the mainstream, to give him hope - hope for self-respect and a better life (Bala vs. Martinez, 181 SCRA 459, 466). Removing a person from office because of his conviction for a crime, after he had undergone and discharged from probation, is simply inconsistent to the purpose and intent of probation.
B. Serious of Neglect of Dutyx x x
For all her shortcomings in the transcription of her stenographic notes as demonstrated herein above, the respondent has shown her utter lack of dedication to the functions of her office. As a trial court stenographer she knows, or ought to know, that she performs an important role in running the machinery of our trial court system and that transcripts of stenographic notes are vital for the speedy disposition of cases. In the several cases that are the subject of Judge Ibay's complaint it took the respondent years to submit her TSNs. Even Judge Ibay's predecessor in Branch 135, now retired Justice Omar Amin, had complained to the Court Administrator about respondent's delinquency in the transcription of stenographic notes (Exh. F, letter dated January 30, 1996, of then Judge Amin to the Court Administrator). Clearly, the respondent not only failed to comply with the rigorous standards required of all public officers and employees but worse, her act eroded the faith of the affected litigants in the judiciary.
C. Grave misconductx x x
Ms. Lim's reaction of going on leave and not reporting for work even without her application for leave being approved instead of explaining to the judge the cause of her delay in submitting the TSNs and asking his forbearance, was an act of sheer insolence and open defiance to a lawful order of her superior. And after being ordered to pay a fine for her contemptuous conduct, she refused to pay the fine and finally paid it only after the certification of the Clerk of Court that she has not yet paid as of July 6, 1998, apparently realizing that the judge was poised to take a more drastic action for her continuing show of defiance.
Such acts of the respondent constitute grave misconduct.
D. Flagrant Violation of Paragraph 7 of Administrative circular No. 24-90.x x x
It is thus clear that her two travels abroad were both in violation of Administrative Circular No. 24-90 as she had pending untranscribed notes, not especially authorized by the court, and without securing permission from the Court Administrator (Resolution of the Supreme Court En Banc dated February 26, 1991, circularized per Circular No. 30-91 dated September 30, 1991).