559 Phil. 610
Attached to the complaint is a copy of the Court's Decision dated February 28, 2000 in Adm. Matter No. P-00-1368, entitled Judge Abelardo H. Santos v. Aurora T. Laranang, etc., wherein this Court adjudged respondent guilty of gross neglect of duty and habitual tardiness, suspended from office, and ordered to submit within the period indicated therein all transcripts of stenographic notes in the eleven cases mentioned therein, with warning. Likewise attached, among other documents, was a copy of a complaint docketed as Adm. Case No. OCA-IPI-00-1002-P entitled Joy Casupanan-Aranas v. Aurora T. Laranang for, inter alia, grave misconduct and discourtesy which is pending action before the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA).
- Habitual absenteeism in violation of Administrative Circular No. 14-2002 in relation to Civil Service Commission Memorandum No. 04, Series of 1991, more particularly when she is the court stenographer on duty. The dates of her absences were specified as: September 10 and 11, 2002, October 22, 2002, November 11 and 12, 2002, March 11, 12 and 13, 2003, May 19, 20 and 21, 2003, July 21, 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30, 2003, November 3, 4 and 5, 2003, February 16, 17, 18, 20, 23, 24, 25 and 27, 2004, March 1, 2, 3, 5, 2004 and May 3, 4, 5, 2004;
- Gross misconduct, discourtesy in the course of official duties, being notoriously undesirable, gross insubordination under Section 36, Article IX of the Civil Service Law, which is docketed as A.M. No. OCA-IPI-00-1002 P, which is under consideration by the Office of the Hon. Court Administrator;
- Quarrelsome; gross neglect of duty; and
- Non-transcription and submission of stenographic notes within the period prescribed in Administrative Circular No. 24-90 and non-wearing of prescribed uniform mandated under Administrative Circular No. 19-2001.
Clearly, the evidence for the complainants had established that respondent, Aurora Laranang, violated [Supreme Court] Administrative Circular No. 24-90 dated July 12, 1990 xxx when she failed to submit the [TSN] of the proceedings held on November 12, 2003, Criminal Case No. 98-1984 for six (6) months and that held on January 26, 2004 in Criminal Case No. 01-1275 for a period of three (3) months, constraining the presiding judge to issue orders dated February 18, 2004 (Exh. E, Annex 6) and April 26, 2004 (Exh. E-2, Annex 6-b) directing the respondent, xxx to transcribe her stenographic notes within five days from those dates, respectively, in the two (2) respective cases.We agree with the recommendation of the Investigating Judge that respondent is guilty only of neglect of duty but not as to habitual absenteeism.xxx xxx xxx
As to the charge of habitual absenteeism, this court finds that [respondent] had been absent more than the allowable absences under Civil Service Commission Circular No. 4, Series of 1991 which circular is adopted by the Hon. Supreme Court in Administrative Circular No. 14-12002 dated March 18, 2002.
As to the charge of notoriously undesirable and quarrelsome, the complainants had not presented evidence to prove the same.
As to the said two (2) Administrative cases filed against the respondent, Aurora Laranang, this Court need not include in this charge as the same were already the subject of administrative investigations, one (1) of which had been decided and the respondent Aurora Laranang, had served the penalty of suspension.
WHEREFORE, xxx the respondent, Aurora Laranang, is found guilty of neglect of duty and habitual absenteeism, and therefore, the undersigned recommends that the respondent Aurora Laranang, be meted the penalty of one (1) whole year suspension without pay pursuant to Section 33 of RA 2260, as amended by [RA] 6040. Considering that the said respondent Aurora Laranang, had already resigned, effective August 16, 2005, as per acceptance of resignation by the Hon. Court Administrator dated October 4, 2005, the one (1) whole year salary shall be deducted from whatever emoluments and benefits she will receive from the Hon. Supreme Court arising from her service in the government. [Words in brackets added].
For CY 2004, respondent incurred absences on the following dates:
Respondent's weekly schedule of assignments as court stenographer Dates when absent Dates when leave applications were Filed OAS-OCA's recommendation For CY 2002 January 21 to 25 February 11 to 15 March 4 to 8 March 25 to 29 April 15 to 19 May 6 to 16 May 27 to 31 June 17 to 21 July 8 to 12 July 29 to Aug. Aug.19 to Aug.23 Sept.9 to Sept.13 September 10 and 11 September 12 Approved for 1 day sick leave with pay. Sept.30 to Oct.4 Oct.21 to Oct.25 October 22 October 23 Approved for 1 day sick leave with pay. Nov.11 to Nov.15 November 11 and November 12 (half-day only November 13 Approved for 1-1/2 days vacation leave
Dec. 2 to Dec. 6 December 2 & 3 December 4 Approved for 1/2 day vacation leave with pay and 1-1/2 day sick leave with pay. For CY 2003 Jan. 6 to Jan. 10 Jan. 27 to Jan. 31 Feb. 17 to Feb. 21 March 10 to March 14 March 10 and 11 March 12 Approved for 2 days vacation leave with pay. March 31 to April 4 April 28 to May 2 May 19 to May 23 May 19 to June 8 May 26 Approved for 2-1/2 days vacation leave with pay, 1-1/2 days sick leave with pay and 11 days without pay. June 9 to June 13 June 30 to July 4 July 21 to July 25 July 21 to Aug. 8 August 11 Approved for 2-1/2 days vacation leave with pay, 2-1/2 days sick leave with pay and 10 days without pay. Aug. 11 to Aug. 15 Sept. 1 to Sept. 5 Sept. 22 to Sept. 26 Oct. 13 to Oct. 17 Nov. 3 to Nov. 9 Nov. 3 to Nov. 5 November 6 Approved for 3 days vacation leave with pay. Nov. 24 to Nov. 28 Dec. 15 to Dec. 19
To dispute allegations about her having neglected her duty by absenting herself when it was her turn to act as court stenographer-on-duty (for CY 2002 and 2003), respondent claimed that her absences were duly authorized, as evidenced by her approved applications for leave. She also claimed that, under the Omnibus Civil Service Rules Implementing Book V of the Administrative Code of 1987, an employee may be allowed to go on leave of absence without pay for a period not exceeding one (1) year in addition to his/her vacation and/or sick leave earned.
Dates absent Number of days absent Dates when leave applications were filed OAS-OCA's Recommendation February 16 to March 12 19 days March 11, 2004 Approved for 5 days vacation leave with pay, 6-1/2 days sick leave with pay and 7-1/2 days without pay. March 16 to 22 5 days March 15 Forced Leave April 6 April 15 April 19
April 11 April 16 April 20 Sick leave Sick leave Sick leave May 3 to May 7 5 days May 11 Approved for 1-1/2 day vacation leave with pay, 1-1/2 day sick leave with pay and 2 days without pay. May 14 and 17 2 days May 12 Special leave May 18 to June 9 10 days June 9 DISAPPROVED
1. Clerks of Court and stenographers are enjoined to faithfully comply with Rule 136, Section 17, par. 1, Rules of Court, which is quoted hereunder:A clear violation by the respondent of the foregoing circular is evident from the two (2) orders issued by Presiding Judge Jocelyn A. Solis-Reyes in Criminal Case No. 98-1984 entitled People v. Joselyn Posadas and Criminal Case No. 01-1275 entitled People v. Renato C. Mallari. In the first case, the scheduled hearing of May 17, 2004 was reset to another date because the stenographic notes taken by respondent during the trial held on November 12, 2003, or after six (6) months and four (4) days have passed, were not yet transcribed. The same is true with the other case where the trial, supposed to be held on April 26, 2004, was also reset because the stenographic notes taken during the trial held on January 26, 2004, that is, three months before said hearing were not yet transcribed. Respondent offered no explanation for her failure to comply with the said deadline.Section 17. Stenographers- It shall be the duty of the stenographer who has attended a session of Court either in the morning or in the afternoon, to deliver to the Clerk of Court, immediately at the close of such morning or in the afternoon session, all the notes he has taken, to be attached to the record of the case, and it shall likewise be the duty of the Clerk to demand that the stenographer comply with said duty. The Clerk of Court shall stamp the date on which notes are received by him. When such notes are transcribed, the transcript shall be delivered to the Clerk, duly initialed on each page thereof, to be attached to the records of the case.2. (a) All stenographer are required to transcribe all stenographic notes and to attach the transcripts to the record of the case not later than twenty (20) days from the time the notes are taken. xxx
(b) The stenographer concerned shall accomplish a verified monthly certification as to compliance with this duty. xxx
(c) With respect to untranscribed stenographic notes as of the date of the effectivity of this Circular all stenographers are directed to submit the transcript thereof not later than three (3) months from date of effectivity of this Circular.
An officer or employee in the civil service shall be considered habitually absent if he incurs unauthorized absences exceeding the allowable 2.5 days monthly leave credits under the leave law for at least three (3) months in a semester or at least three (3) consecutive months during the year.Under CSC MC No. 30, series of 1989, habitual absenteeism is classified as a grave offense. On the other hand, frequent unauthorized absences or tardiness in reporting for duty is, for the first offense, punishable with suspension for six (6) months and one (1) day to one (1) year, and with dismissal from the service for the second offense.
II. Absenteeism and tardiness, even if such do not qualify as "habitual" or "frequent" under Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 04, Series of 1991, shall be dealt with severely, and any falsification of daily time records to cover up for such absenteeism and/or tardiness shall constitute gross dishonesty or serious misconduct. (italics ours)Respondent's repeated absences have, to be sure, undermined public service. Time and again, this Court has pronounced that any act which falls short of the exacting standards for public office, especially by those who are expected to preserve the good image of the judiciary, shall not be countenanced. Public office is a public trust. Public officers must at all time be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost degree of responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency.