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618 Phil. 95


[ A.M. No. P-06-2620 [Formerly OCA IPI No. 07-2517-P], October 09, 2009 ]




On November 30, 2006, herein respondent Mario Q. Pagkanlungan, Jr., Process Server of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya, left the court premises at 11:55 a.m. and proceeded to his house to partake of lunch.

After taking lunch, before which he drank beer and/or brandy, respondent reported back for work. At around 4:00-5:00 p.m., after the court employees had left, except herein complainant Angelita Dontogan (Angelita), a court stenographer, respondent kissed Angelita on her lips which respondent sucked after telling her "I love you." The kiss was, by Angelita's account, "so hard and evidently prompted by lust it even left a red mark on [her] upper lip."

Hence, spawned Angelita's letter-complaint subject of the present administrative case, aside from her criminal complaint for acts of lasciviousness.

On the directive of the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), respondent submitted his Comment which adopted his Counter-Affidavit filed before the Provincial Prosecutor's Office in the criminal complaint, stating that, inter alia, between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. of November 30, 2006, complainant offered him merienda but he declined as he was still full, and that "nothing happened" between him and complainant.

The OCA,[1] acting on the complaint which it classified as one for "Misconduct (Acts of Lasciviousness),"[2] referred said complaint to the Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya Regional Trial Court then Executive Judge Jose Godofredo M. Naui (Judge Naui) for investigation, report, and recommendation.

In his REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION,[3] Judge Naui observed:

Both complain[an]t and respondent stuck to their version[s] of what happened. Thus, the issue boils down to a question of the word of complain[an]t against the word of respondent.

Naturally, between the positive testimony of complainant and the negative testimony of respondent, the former shall prevail. Complainant clearly and definitely asserted that respondent kissed her with lust while respondent denied the allegations. The denial set up by respondent is a very weak defense, even feebler than alibi since there is an admission that he was actually at the scene at the time that the incident allegedly happened. Respondent claimed that between four and five in the afternoon, he was along the corridor, just a few steps away from where complainant was.

The principle in rape that when the victim says that she has been raped, she says in effect all that is necessary to show that rape has been committed, might as well apply to the instant case. There is no reason at all why a woman in that remote mountain town of Kayapa would perjure herself and impute such indecent conduct to a co-worker were it not the truth. Notably, respondent has not ascribed to complainant any improper motive. All he could say is that he had some misunderstanding with his former boarders who now have friendly relations with complainant. Respondent did not sufficiently explain what the misunderstanding was all about, how strained his relationship with the former boarders and how this has affected his relationship with his fellow court employees. In any case, he admitted that he had no misunderstanding with complainant, that they were civil, if not friendly, towards each other. In his counter-affidavit, he claimed that around four to [f]ive o'clock in the afternoon, complain[an]t offered him merienda. What motive then would complainant have against respondent?

Speaking of lack of improper motive, the same thing can be said of the witnesses of complainant. In her affidavit, Teresita Esconde, Clerk of Court of the MTC Kayapa, stated that after discussing with respondent his performance rating sometime after the complaint was filed, she asked him about the incident. He replied "OO, inaamin ko hinalikan ko si Angie pero sa pisngi lang at hindi sa lips. Maliit na baga[y] lang [y]un, di naman ako nakapatay, di ako nagrape." This is an admission against interest that can be taken against respondent. Respondent stated that he had good relationship with Esconde and there is no reason why she would falsely testify against him.

Considering the foregoing, the undersigned believes that there is truth to the accusation of complainant against respondent. What must have happened was respondent was drunk and when he was alone with complainant inside the office, some evil spirit (probably in the liquor) impelled him to kiss the complainant. Respondent admitted that he and his boarder Juan Galvan [Galvan], the municipal agriculture officer, had drank a bottle of beer grande before lunch. However, Franklin R. Eliseo, contractual administrative aide of the municipal agriculture office, stated that "before eating out lunch, Mario Pagkanlungan offered us a drink and he then bought one (1) bottle of long neck Gran Matador Brandy and while drinking, our OJT's together with Julieta Sinakay our clerk were having their lunch." Eliseo added that from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM, Sinakay, the two unnamed OJT's and he were the only ones in the municipal agriculture office. Respondent also admitted that he knew no motive for Eliseo to testify falsely against him. Although respondent and his witness Juan Galvan claimed that they drank just a single beer grande, it would appear that they actually finished off a whole bottle of whiskey. Eliseo was a subordinate of Galvan who had even ordered him to cook their lunch. There is no evidence at all why Eliseo would perjure himself against his own superior and respondent.

Robert Malcat, court interpreter stated [in] his affidavit that on at least three occasions, respondent came in drunk.

The testimony of Galvan cannot tilt the scales in favor of respondent. Galvan could not be considered a disinterested witness as he was a boarder of respondent. Moreover, he was a drinking partner of respondent, and as clearly implied in the affidavit of Eliseo, Galvan was nowhere [in] the office in the afternoon.[4] (Italics and underscoring supplied)

He accordingly recommended as follows:

[R]espondent be found guilty of the charge against him. His lascivious conduct was compounded by the fact that he was drunk during office hours, apparently not even the first time that [this] has happened. Respondent should be meted the proper penalty.[5] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

In its Memorandum dated January 20, 2009, the OCA, after noting Judge Naui's REPORT and further noting from the rollo that respondent had admitted that he smoked within the court premises during office hours, left the office for lunch at 11:55 A.M. instead of strictly at 12:00 noon, and reported back for work under the influence of liquor, recommended:

x x x that the instant case be RE-DOCKETED as a regular administrative matter and that respondent MARIO Q. PAGKANLUNGAN, JR., Process Server, MTC Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya, be found guilty of conduct unbecoming a court employee, violation of Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 09-99 for smoking within court premises during the prescribed office hours, of leaving his post during the prescribed office hours and of reporting to office under the influence of liquor and be meted the penalty of SUSPENSION for six (6) months. [6] (Emphasis in the original; underscoring supplied)

The findings of the Investigating Judge, particularly that respondent's conduct was lascivious, are well-taken, as is the observation of the OCA.

Compounding respondent's acts of lasciviousness and drunkenness during office hours were, by his own admission, his smoking within court premises during office hours and leaving his post during office hours in violation of Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 9-99.

In Merilo-Bedural v. Edroso,[7] the therein respondent court utility worker who committed lascivious acts against a fellow court employee was found by the Court guilty of "gross misconduct and immorality prejudicial to the best interests of the service"[8] and was dismissed from the service.

Respondent's gross misconduct and immorality as reflected above, not to mention his violation of a Supreme Court circular, merit his dismissal. The exacting standards of morality and decency expected of those in the service of the judiciary must be maintained, failing which the respect and confidence in the judiciary will be eroded.

WHEREFORE, respondent Mario Q. Pagkanlungan, Process Server of the Municipal Trial Court of Kayapa. Nueva Vizcaya, is found GUILTY of Gross Misconduct and violation of Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 09-99 and DISMISSED from the service with forfeiture of all retirement benefits and with prejudice to reemployment in any branch of the government, including government-owned and controlled corporations.


Carpio,*** Corona, Carpio Morales, Velasco, Jr., Nachura, Leonardo-De Castro, Brion, Peralta, Bersamin, Del Castillo, and Abad, JJ.
Puno, C.J., on official leave.
Quisumbing and Chico-Nazario, JJ., on leave.

*** Acting Chirf Justice.

[1] Rollo, p. 2.

[2] Id. at 1.

[3] Id. at 20-21.

[4] Id. at 116-118.

[5] Id. at 118.

[6] Id. at 160.

[7] 396 Phil. 756 (2000).

[8] Id. at 763.

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