THE Supreme Court (SC) ordered the dismissal from service of a municipal trial court sheriff in Negros Occidental after he was found guilty of dishonesty and grave misconduct.
Dismissed was George E. Gareza, Sheriff III of the Municipal Trial Court in Victorias City (MTCC), who also committed gross negligence for failure to enforce a writ in a small claims case.
In a nine-page decision, promulgated on March 1, 2016, the SC en banc also directed the forfeiture of Gareza’s benefits and privileges, except accrued leave credits, and for his perpetual disqualification from reemployment in any branch or instrumentality of the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations.
The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Aireen Mahusay, representative of Lopue’s Victorias Corp., over a small claims case against one Joseph Andrei A. Garcia before the MTCC of Victorias City. The MTCC rendered a decision based on a compromise agreement, where Garcia will pay in installments the total amount of P54,591.05.
However, Garcia reneged on his undertaking, prompting Lopue’s to file a motion for the issuance of a writ of execution, which Gareza was tasked to implement.
Subsequently, Gareza received P10,000 from Garcia but failed to remit the same to the MTCC branch clerk. But even after having remitted the partial payment from Garcia, Gareza failed to satisfactorily implement the writ and only made a return of service in July 2014, or after a period of almost three years after the issuance thereof.
In imposing the maximum penalty, the SC held that dishonesty is a grave offense punishable by dismissal even on the first offense, even as it considered as aggravating circumstances the gross neglect of duty and simple neglect of duty.
The 15-man tribunal also reminded that sheriffs have the duty to perform faithfully and accurately, and any method of execution falling short of the requirements of the law should not be countenanced. It reiterated that the submission of the return and of periodic reports by the sheriff is a duty that cannot be taken lightly.
The sheriff is tasked to update the court on the status of the execution and the reasons for the failure to satisfy its judgment. The periodic reporting also provides the court with insights on how efficient court processes are after a judgment’s promulgation. Its overall purpose is to ensure speedy execution of decisions.