CEBU, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has perpetually disqualified a former utility worker of the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Cebu City from re-employment in any government agency or instrumentality after he was found guilty of grave misconduct.
SC Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe held Ramiro Balbona guilty of grave misconduct and would have been dismissed from service, had he not resigned earlier.
“A judicious review of the records of this case reveals substantial evidence showing that respondent indeed solicited and received the amount of P30,000 from complainants, on the pretext that he will facilitate the release of the latter’s relative who is a detention prisoner,” read the decision.
Aside from perpetual disqualification, Balbona’s civil service eligibility was also cancelled, while his retirement and other benefits, except accrued leave credits, are forfeited.
In their complaint, Maura Judaya and Ana Arevalo, respectively the mother and live-in partner of Arturo Judaya, who was arrested for alleged use of illegal drugs, alleged that they were told that Balbona could facilitate Arturo’s release in exchange for P30,000.
Last February 24, 2005 at around 9:30 a.m., Maura and Arevalo went to the Palace of Justice in Cebu City to deliver the amount to Balbona, who then assured the two that he would help secure Arturo’s release.
However, complainants said Balbona failed make good his promise. Thus, they demanded that the money they had given him be returned, but only P2,500 was handed back to them.
Balbona denied the allegations against him, claiming, as a mere utility worker, he could not in any way facilitate the release of a detention prisoner.
He alleged it was impossible for him to facilitate since the case filed against Arturo was before a Mandaue City RTC, while he was assigned in RTC Cebu City.
With the foregoing facts, Bernabe found Arturo liable of the offense charged based on evidence.
“In a catena of cases, the Court has consistently held that the acts of soliciting and receiving money from litigants for personal gain constitute grave misconduct, for which the court employee guilty thereof should be held administratively liable, as in this case,” read the decision. —/GAN (FREEMAN)