SC sacks sheriff in Davao City

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THE Supreme Court (SC) has dismissed a sheriff in Davao City for failing to implement a Writ of Execution in 2012.

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In a November 11, 2014 decision, the SC En Banc found respondent Roberto Esguerra, sheriff of the Regional Trial Court Branch 14 in Davao City, guilty of “dishonesty, gross neglect of duty and gross inefficiency in the performance of official duties.”

“Accordingly, he is dismissed from the service, with forfeiture of all his retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits, if any, and with prejudice to re-employment in any branch or instrumentality of the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations,” the SC ruling read.

The High Court ruled that “his being remiss in his duties was underscored by the fact that a year had passed without the writ being implemented.”

Esguerra’s dismissal stemmed from the complaint filed by Feliciano Francia, a plaintiff in the Unlawful Detainer case filed before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) in Davao City.

On August 2, 2010, the MTCC rendered a decision favoring Francia and ordered the defendants and their heirs, assigns and those acting for and in their behalf to, among others, vacate the property being litigated.

The defendants filed an appeal. However, the RTC Branch 14 affirmed the lower court decision and issued a writ of execution for the sheriff to implement.

In his complaint, Francia alleged that the sheriff asked P3,000.00 from him for expenses which he readily gave.  He also offered the sheriff another P15,000.00 for the full satisfaction of the writ.

Despite the lapse of more than one year, however, the writ remained unimplemented prompting Francia to to file the administrative case against Esguerra.

The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) found Esguerra guilty of gross neglect of duty.

It recommended that the sheriff be dismissed from the service with forfeiture of retirement benefits except accrued leave credits and with prejudice to re-employment in any branch or instrumentality of the government, among others.

The SC agreed with the findings of the OCA that Esguerra is administratively liable.

“We, however, find him also liable for other offenses,” the SC said.

“Records reveal that this is not the first offense of respondent sheriff. In A.M. No. P-07-2370 dated 14 September 2007, he was suspended by the Court for one [1] month for dereliction of duty.”

Records further reveal that another charge of neglect of duty is pending before the Legal Office, OCA.

“As a final note, it cannot be over-emphasized that sheriffs are ranking officers of the court.  They play an important part in the administration of justice—execution being the fruit and end of the suit, and the life of the law,” the SC pointed out.

“In view of their exalted position as keepers of the faith, their conduct should be geared towards maintaining the prestige and integrity of the court. Respondent sheriff failed to live up to this standard. It is evident that he never learned from his previous infraction.  Having tarnished the good image of the judiciary, he should not be allowed to stay a minute longer in the service,” it added.

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