JUDGE LUCINA ALPEZ DAYAON, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court of Macabebe, Pampanga, Branch 54,
- versus -
JESUSA V. DE LEON, Court Stenographer III of the same court,
A.M. No. P-11-2926
CARPIO, J., Chairperson,
February 1, 2012
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This administrative matter refers to the habitual absenteeism of Jesusa V. De Leon (De Leon), Court Stenographer III, Regional Trial Court of Macabebe, Pampanga, Branch 54, in violation of Administrative Circular No. 14-2002.
In a letter dated 7 July 2010 sent to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), Presiding Judge Lucina Alpez Dayaon (Judge Dayaon) of the Regional Trial Court of Macabebe, Pampanga, Branch 54, reported that De Leon has been absent, without approved leave, for the period 22 April 2010 to 5 May 2010, and 27 May 2010 to 25 June 2010. Judge Dayaon requested that De Leon be dismissed from the service since her habitual absenteeism without leave for prolonged periods of time constitutes conduct prejudicial to the best interest of public service.
Judge Dayaon stated in her letter that she previously issued a Memorandum dated 5 May 2010 directing De Leon to submit a written explanation why she should not be recommended for dismissal from the service for her unexplained absences and failure to transcribe stenographic notes on time. Despite the receipt of the Memorandum on 6 May 2010, per Servers Report dated 11 May 2010, De Leon failed to submit an explanation and complete the transcription of the stenographic notes.
Judge Dayaon stated that this work attitude of De Leon has been recurring for many years. In 2008, Judge Dayaon issued three memoranda on different dates, 20 June, 3 November and 26 November, directed to De Leon for her absenteeism and failure to transcribe stenographic notes; unauthorized/unexplained absences; and delay in transcribing stenographic notes and disobedience to lawful orders of the court. In 2009, the record of De Leons absences and tardiness exceeded the number of times she was present at work.
Judge Dayaon declared that De Leon submitted three letters of explanation on different dates, 26 June 2008, 9 December 2008, and 27 March 2009. However, De Leon did not account for her absences without leave during the months of April to June 2010. Judge Dayaon stated that De Leons habitual absenteeism constitutes conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and warrants the penalty of dismissal.
In a Report dated 13 August 2010, the Leave Division of the OCA, issued a Summary of Absences Incurred by Jesusa V. De Leon. The records show that De Leon incurred unauthorized absences for the year 2010: April 22-30 (7 days); May 4-14 and 24-31 (14 days); and June 1-25 (18 days). In the 1st Indorsement dated 22 September 2010, the OCA directed De Leon to file her comment within 10 days from receipt.
In her Comment dated 30 October 2010, De Leon admitted that she was absent during said dates in the months of April to June 2010 because her three children were afflicted with cough, cold and fever. De Leon stated that her husband was out of work, and they had no sufficient money to seek treatment from a doctor, and had resorted to self-medication. Because of her miserable condition, she neglected to file an official leave for her absences. De Leon added that she did not have enough money to cover her transportation expenses from her residence to the RTC and their daily needs were kindly provided for by concerned neighbors, friends and relatives.
Moreover, De Leon stated that when her children became well she reported for work on 28 June 2010. Thereafter, she had been regularly present and only had three stenographic notes pending to be transcribed. De Leon sought the indulgence of the Court since her work is her only means of livelihood after having served the judiciary for 18 years.
The OCAs Report and Recommendation
In its Report dated 10 February 2011, the OCA found De Leon habitually absent for incurring unauthorized absences for the months of April, May and June 2010. The OCA stated that De Leons reasons of attending to the needs of her children and financial difficulties are insufficient to justify her absences and exonerate her from administrative liability. However, these circumstances help mitigate the penalty to be imposed.
The OCA made this recommendation:
1. the instant administrative case against Ms. Jesusa V. De Leon, Court Stenographer III, Regional Trial Court, Branch 54, Macabebe, Pampanga, be RE-DOCKETED as a regular administrative matter; and
2. Ms. Jesusa V. De Leon be found GUILTY of Habitual Absenteeism, and, accordingly, be SUSPENDED for ONE (1) MONTH WITHOUT PAY, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same of similar act shall be dealt with more severely.
The Courts Ruling
We adopt the findings and recommendation of the OCA.
Administrative Circular No. 14-20021 (AC 14-2002) provides:
A. HABITUAL ABSENTEEISM
1. 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 credit under the law for at least three (3) months in a semester or at least three (3) consecutive months during the year; x x x
The following sanctions shall be imposed for violation of the policy on habitual absenteeism:
1st offense Suspension for six (6) months and one (1) day to one (1) year.
2nd offense Dismissal from the service.
The circular provides that an employee is considered habitually absent if the employee incurred unauthorized absences exceeding the 2.5 days allowed per month for three months in a semester or at least three consecutive months during the year.
In the present case, De Leon incurred unauthorized absences for three consecutive months in the year 2010: 7 days in April, 14 days in May and 18 days in June. These unauthorized absences, which De Leon admitted and certified to by the OCA in a Report dated 13 August 2010, clearly fall under AC 14-2002. Under AC 14-2002 and The Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service,2 the penalty of habitual absenteeism for the first offense is suspension of six (6) months and one (1) day to one (1) year.
However, in several administrative cases,3 mitigating circumstances merited the leniency of the Court. The presence of factors such as length of service in the judiciary, acknowledgment of infractions and feeling of remorse, and family circumstances, among other things, play an important role in the imposition of penalties.4 Also, in Re: Habitual Absenteeism of Mr. Fernando P. Pascual,5 we have ruled that where a penalty less punitive would suffice, whatever missteps may be committed by labor ought not to be visited with a consequence so severe. It is not only because of the laws concern for the workingman. There is, in addition, her family to consider. Unemployment brings untold hardships and sorrows on those dependent on the wage-earner.
Here, we have considered De Leons length of service, acknowledgment of her infraction and apology to determine the appropriate penalty. Since this is her first infraction, De Leon deserves another chance. However, the circumstances may not be further mitigated since De Leon had previously been issued several memoranda by Judge Dayaon in 2008 for her unauthorized absences, delay and failure to transcribe stenographic notes, and disobedience to lawful orders of the court. Also, in 2009, she reported for work less than her absences and tardiness. Thus, taking into account all the considerations, we adopt the recommendation of the OCA that De Leon be suspended for one month without pay with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely.
WHEREFORE, we find respondent Jesusa V. De Leon, Court Stenographer III, Regional Trial Court of Macabebe, Pampanga, Branch 54, GUILTY of HABITUAL ABSENTEEISM and impose on her the penalty of SUSPENSION of ONE (1) MONTH WITHOUT PAY with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely.
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
ARTURO D. BRION
JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ MARIA LOURDES P. A. SERENO
Associate Justice Associate Justice
BIENVENIDO L. REYES
1Reiterating the Civil Service Commissions Policy on Habitual Absenteeism, issued on 18 March 2002 and took effect on 1 April 2002.
2Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 19, series of 1999, issued on 31 August 1999 and took effect on 15 September 1999.
3Re: Habitual Absenteeism of Mr. Erwin A. Abdon, A.M. No. 2007-13-SC, 14 April 2008, 551 SCRA 130; Judge Domingo-Regala v. Sultan, 492 Phil. 482 (2005).
4 Office of the Court Administrator v. De Lemos, A.M. No. P-11-2953, 7 September 2011.
5A.M. No. 2005-16-SC, 22 September 2005, 470 SCRA 569, citing Almira v. B.F. Goodrich Philippines, Inc., 157 Phil. 110 (1974).