Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Resurreccion vs. Ibuna, [A.M. No. P-04-1783. August 7, 2006.] (formerly OCA IPI No. 02-1519-P)

Facts: In an affidavit-complaint, Leticia S.A. Resurreccion charged respondent Rustico I. Ibuna, Jr., sheriff, with violation of RA 6713. Resurreccion alleged that she purchased from one Liberty Aralar bighead carp fingerlings worth P450,000 which she paid in full. However, respondent sheriff wrote, for and in behalf of Aralar, a letter demanding payment of about P250,000 that complainant allegedly still owed Aralar. Complainant claimed that Ibuna used his office to harass her. 

Respondent denied the allegations against him. He denied harassing complainant but admitted preparing the letter and personally serving it on her. He explained that Aralar sought his assistance on the matter and he helped her without getting anything in return. He pointed out that, instead of being condemned for what he did, he should be "commended for an exemplary act." 

Quoting the provisions of RA 6713, Section 5 (d) 2 and Section 4 (e), 3 he claimed that public officials and employees must attend to anyone who wants to avail himself of the services of their office and must, at all times, act promptly and expeditiously. 

Issue: Whether the act of the sheriff in preparing a demand letter and personally serving it in behalf of a private person constitute misconduct

Held: Respondent's act constituted misconduct which was not a light offense. Indeed, respondent sheriff went way beyond the scope of his authority when he prepared the demand letter and served it personally on complainant. The preparation of a demand letter is not one of the sheriff's duties and functions set forth in the 2002 Revised Manual for Clerks of Court. he used his position to advance the interests of one person over that of another by acting as "counsel" and collecting agent for Aralar. He was oblivious to the fact that the misunderstanding between Aralar and complainant could have reached the court of which he was an employee. The integrity of the court could have thus been compromised. 

As a public official, he ought to have conducted himself in a manner that was beyond suspicion and reproach. By preparing the demand letter which he served personally and in a harassing manner on complainant, respondent compromised the integrity of his office and brought it to disrepute. 

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