THE Supreme Court (SC) dismissed a court employee in Isabela for forging the signature of another employee in a check and pocketing P3,000 worth of clothing allowance in September 1999. But she is being made to pay the 6-percent interest a year to the victim.
In a full court decision, the tribunal found Elizabeth Ibay, clerk II, Municipal Trial Court in cities, Cauayan, Isabela, guilty of dishonesty.
The court dismissed Ibay from the service “with forfeiture of all retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits, with prejudice to reemployment in any branch or instrumentality of the government, including government-owned and controlled corporations.”
She was also directed to pay Geraldine de Ocampo, Court Interpreter of the Municipal Trial Court, Cordon, the amount of P3,000 representing the face value of one check she encashed plus 6-percent interest from September 1999 until the finality of the decision.
The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) found that her LandBank check was mailed to the now MTCC-Cauayan, on September 2, 1999.
The court upon recommendation of the OCA decided on April 13, 2011 to do away with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Report.
According to the high court, the case against Ibay was bolstered by the fact that Judge Henidino Eduarte found striking similarities between Ibay’s handwriting in the inventory of cases and the forged endorsement in the check.
Ibay admitted that her handwriting in the inventory bore similarities to that of the endorser of the check.
“In fine, we find that there is substantial evidence to support Ibay’s dismissal on the ground of dishonesty,” the court said.
Section 52(A) (1) of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service provides that dishonesty is a grave offense punishable by dismissal from the service even when committed for the first time.
“The recommendations of the OCA are well-taken. In administrative proceedings, the quantum of proof necessary for a finding of guilt is substantial evidence or such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind may accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
“Well-entrenched is the rule that substantial evidence, and not clear and convincing evidence or proof beyond reasonable doubt, is sufficient as basis for the imposition of any disciplinary action upon the erring employee,” the court held.
“The standard of substantial evidence is satisfied where the employer, in this case the Court, has reasonable ground to believe that the employee is responsible for the misconduct and his participation therein renders him unworthy of the trust and confidence demanded by his position.”
While there is no direct evidence to suggest that Ibay actually took the check, forged de Ocampo’s signature and encashed the check, the surrounding circumstances point towards her administrative liability.”
“We suspended her for seven months without benefits, considering that she admitted the offense and she was not administratively charged in the past. Since this is no longer Ibay’s first offense and we already warned her before that a similar act would warrant a more severe penalty, we now find it imperative to impose upon her the extreme penalty of dismissal from the service.
“Time and again, we held that persons involved in the dispensation of justice, from the highest official to the lowest clerk, must live up to the strictest standards of integrity, probity, uprightness, honesty and diligence in the public service.”
The court added that it would not tolerate dishonesty as the judiciary deserves the best from all its employees.